The champions and runners-up in the German BBL both added low post players to their teams as two-time reigning league and cup holders Brose Baskets Bamberg added athletic big man Marcus Slaughter and Alba Berlin added center Torin Francis.
Bamberg made their first addition to the team after giving up on re-signing undersized athletic center Kyle Hines by bringing in the 26-year-old Riverside, California native Slaughter. The 6-foot-9 power forward/center gives Chris Fleming’s team some much needed athleticism in the low post to team with German international center Tibor Pleiss.
A defensive stopper who is also a high-flying spectacular dunker, Slaughter played 34 games last season for Blancos de Rueda Valladolid in the Spanish ACB, averaging 9.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks while shooting 65 percent from the field.
Before last season in Spain, Slaughter had played in Turkey, Israel, Germany and France and also has international experience from the ULEB Cup/EuroCup in three seasons. Since averaging a double-double 16.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in his final season with San Diego State, Slaughter was third in rebounding in Turkey in 2006-07 (10.2 rpg) and led the French league in 2008-09 (9.5 rpg) while also averaging at least 1.4 steals or blocks in each of his five professional seasons in Europe.
Slaughter also knows a bit about the German league as he played for Eisbären Bremerhaven to start the 2008-09 season before moving to the French ProA.
Alba Berlin also solidified their low post a bit as they brought in 28-year-old center Torin Francis, who played last season in Turkey and Greece, averaging 12.6 points and 6.1 rebounds for Panelliniois Athens.
The 6-foot-11 Francis, who signed on a two-year deal with Alba Berlin, averaged 15.7 points and 8.2 rebounds in six Eurocup Last 16 games with Panellionios including 29 points against Benetton. Francis is the latest new player for Berlin following the addition of point guard and 2011 BBL MVP DaShaun Wood, with whom Francis played in the second Italian league in 2007-08.
“Our highest priority was filling the two toughest positions, point guard and center. I am happy that we could get DaShaun Wood and Torin Francis as strong reinforcements for our current squad,” said head coach Gordon Herbert, who like Wood also is new to Berlin after spending last season with Frankfurt Skyliners.
“Francis is an experienced player who has already proven himself in strong European leagues but is still young enough to develop further. We get a strong, physical presence on the boards, toughness and rebounds – all with the potential of getting even better.”
A former McDonald’s and Nike All-American in high school and stand-out at Notre Dame, Francis played two seasons in Italy before moving to Greek club AEL Larissa where he was second in the league in scoring (16.4 points), first in rebounds (8.6) and second in blocks (1.4). Later in the 2008-09 season he moved onto Israel and has since played in Greece and Turkey.
Berlin also announced that former star Immanuel McElroy would be leaving the team to play for New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig on a two-year contract.
The 31-year-old McElroy arrived in Berlin in 2008 from Cologne and helped Alba to the 2008 German league and 2009 German Cup triumphs. In 2010, he was named to the All Eurocup First Team in leading Berlin to the Eurocup final.
A 2006 league champion and two-time German Cup winner with Cologne, McElroy will give Braunschweig some great experience, having also won three straight BBL defensive player of the year awards.
“Immanuel McElroy was way up on the wish list for a lot of teams and we are really happy that he decided for us. He is a very important element in our concept. He will give us push forward with his tremendous experience in the BBL and the Euroleague,” said Braunschweig general manager Oliver Braun.