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County Upper land former BBL player Ryan Wilson ahead of inaugural season in men’s league

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County Upper Basketball Academy’s new Men’s team are set to play in their first ever league match on Saturday in Division Three of the NBL.

They will travel to Essex Rebels II (5pm) to begin their season – and will do so with former British Basketball League (BBL) player Ryan Wilson in their midst.

The 31-year-old from Missouri is an experienced basketball player who has represented both the Manchester Giants and Sheffield Sharks in the UK’s professional league, as well as playing for Ipswich in the NBL Division Two in 2015/16.

Ryan Wilson played for Sheffield Sharks in the BBL, the UK’s top level of domestic basketball Picture: BBL
Ryan Wilson played for Sheffield Sharks in the BBL, the UK’s top level of domestic basketball Picture: BBL

He has played for teams in Spain, Italy, Ireland and the Phillipines, following his US college basketball career at William Penn and UMKC.

He played for the Westminster Warriors in the NBL Division One last season before being lured over to County Upper after some basketball friends told him about the new team.

He said: “I liked what I saw and what County Upper are creating and I wanted to be a part of it.

“I think I can bring experience from playing all over the world and help a squad that has a lot of young talent in it.

“I can bring leadership qualities and knowledge of the game as well, I’ve played league basketball before and know what to expect.

“I think there’s respect among the players of what I bring to the table and, so far, I’ve felt able to help.

“We’ve been working over the summer in preparation but the first game is as much about learning where we are in terms of the quality of the league.

“What I would like to see – across the first season really – is us bringing a competitive edge; we are a new team and we only practice once a week but from what I’ve seen in training, we have the ability to be competitive.

“But, that said, my mentality is always the same: Win the championship. I was raised to always go for the win and what’s the point in entering if you don’t aim for the best outcome?

“It’s why we play the game, to win, and from what I’ve seen, there’s no reason why we couldn’t do that.”

Head coach Darren Johnson said: “Ryan is a huge signing for us and one who would like to build a legacy with us here in Bury St Edmunds.

“On paper we will look strong having players like Ryan on the roster, but from my experience unless we are able to create good chemistry between these players we will not be as effective as we would like to be during the season.

“Unlike other men’s teams, we are also using this team as a development tool for our Elite U19 Academy players, because of this we will have a good mix of veteran players and young up and coming players, which is the desired outcome.

“So I’m not going to predict anything for the season as anything could happen, but I do like the team we have put together and the work ethic that players are bringing to practice. We should be a fun team to come and support this season.”


* U19 Elite Boys County Upper Academy 48 - 88 Hackney Community College in the ABL League. Top Scorers: Noah Healy-Dilkes with 10 points supported by Eivis Kriunas and Cameron Poolton with seven points each.

* Sir George Sixth Form 9 - 113 U19 County Upper Elite Girls Academy in the AOC League. Top Scorers: Lizzy Sanders with 38 points supported by Alex Popova and Grace Spooner with 26 points and 24 points respectively.

* Derby Trailblazers 81 - 69 U18 County Upper Girls (NBL Conference North). Top Scorers: Lizzy Sanders 20 supported by Alex Popova with 18 points and Grace Spooner with 16 points.

* Southend Scorpions 107 - 70 U16 County Upper Boys (NBL Conference East). Top Scorers: Lewis French 23 points and Alfie Price 14 points.

* U14 County Upper Boys 91 - 57 Luton (NBL Conference East).

* U14 County Upper Girls 20 - 0 Croydon (NBL Conference South). Forfeit due to no licences provided by the away team.