The Canterbury Rams have secured the services of promising Kiwi basketball player Jack Salt for this NBL season.
The 2-metre-tall forward is now entering the next phase of his career after spending five years in the US university system with Virginia - with one of his Rams teammates a big reason for the move to Christchurch.
“A huge factor was Isaiah Wilkins," Salt said. "He's one of my best friends and he played here last year and I wasn’t sure I was going to play NZ NBL, but with timing it kind of worked out nicely."
His best friend and former University of Virginia teammate was a standout for the Rams last season, meaning Salt's new coach didn't have to put on the hard sell.
“I knew Jack Salt played at Virginia and they were teammates, but didn’t realise they were roommates, so after speaking with Isaiah he was pretty well informed about NZ and the league,” Rams coach Mick Downer said.
Salt became the first New Zealander to win the men's NCAA Championship, one of the biggest titles in US college sport.
“That last weekend is the Final Four and that was just crazy and to be part of that is a memory I’d just cherish for the rest of my life,” Salt said.
Since that history-making day last year, a bout of glandular fever has kept him sidelined for the last six months, meaning he was unable to take up his contract in Poland.
“I had working out taken away for me for six months and basketball. I’m very hungry and exited to play and happy to be here and can't wait to get after it,” Salt said.
Salt will head back to Virginia next week, before returning to ramp up training with the Rams in March as he looks to help his new team break a 28-year title drought.