Bradford Dragons today unveiled their two Americans for the 2018/19 National Basketball League Division One Campaign, with Ricky Fetske II returning for a fifth season with the team and rookie, Drexler Clark also making the transition across the pond.
6’8” American power forward Fetske first arrived at the Dragons for the 2012/13 season. Having then spent a season at Team Northumbria and another at Leeds Force, the New Jersey big man then returned to the Dragons Den in November 2015, where he has been a pivotal figure in the Dragons’ line up ever since.
Statistically, Fetske was the standout player of the Dragons’ 2016/17 campaign, averaging 16.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, the only Dragons player to average a double-double across the season, and an impressive 22.3 efficiency, one of the highest in the division. He also picked up the official Taco Bell Player of the Year award at the club’s end of season celebration.
“I am really excited to be entering into my fifth season with the Bradford Dragons,” says Fetske. “We are bringing back a core group of veterans (Jermayne Laing, Rafi Saipe and Rihards Šulcs), plus we have an arsenal of both talented and experienced teammates joining the squad.
“Under the guidance of Coach Mellor and the entire coaching staff, we are planning to compete for multiple championships this season.
Fetske, who has been busy getting married (twice) this summer, with ceremonies in both the USA and Belgium, will once again combine playing with his role as Schools and Community Coaching co-ordinator, a position he took up for the Dragons two seasons ago.
“I am also anticipating big things for the Dragons off the court,” Fetske added. “I am dedicated and committed to inspiring young people to learn and enjoy the sport of basketball, throughout West Yorkshire.
“I hope to be integral in continuing the development of local talent and building our Junior Programme, which has already shown tremendous success in the past few years.”
Bradford’s head coach, Chris Mellor added, “The last two seasons Ricky has been one of our best players and it was an easy decision to offer him the chance to return.
“He does so many things for us, at both ends of the court and his ability to shoot the ball from deep as a 5 man gives us good options line-up wise.
“His leadership qualities and professionalism will also help our younger players.”
Meanwhile, 23-year-old Clark (full name Emmanuel Drexler Clark), who hails from Davidson in North Carolina and is a graduate of Belmont Abbey College joins up with the Dragons for his rookie year. The 6’0” point guard averaged 11.5 points and 5.7 assists during his senior year, finishing in the national top 20 for assists. Already, in his short career to date, he has notched up career highs of 32 points and 16 assists.
“It’s a blessing and a privilege to be able to be joining the Dragons’ roster,” Clark remarked. “I hope to come in strong and prove myself as an individual, whilst also coming together as a team so that we can achieve something special.
“Lastly, I’d like to thank Coach Mellor and his staff for believing in my abilities and giving me this opportunity to live out my dream.”
Mellor himself said, “Drexler is eager to prove himself in his first venture overseas as a player, but I’m already sensing an old head on young shoulders.
“He seems a humble young man, with a team first attitude and it’s not only a great opportunity for Drexler to showcase his talents, but also, I feel, it’s going to be a great fit overall for the team.
Both Fetske and Clark will be available for the Dragons first games of the season, a National Trophy Double header weekend, away at Team Newcastle University Knights, on Saturday 29th September and then a home fixture against Manchester Magic the following afternoon.
The league campaign commences on Saturday 6th October with a home tie against newly promoted Nottingham Hoods and all home fixtures will once again be played at the Bradford College Sports Hall on Trinity Road.
Details of preseason fixtures will be announced shortly.
Photo edits by Chloe Love