NEW Bendigo Braves import Dyami Starks knows there is pressure on him to succeed.
Not only is he effectively replacing last season's SEABL MVP Jeremy Kendle, he is stepping into a Braves team looking to defend their 2016 national championship.
While championship coach Ben Harvey has already said comparisons between Starks and Kendle would be unfair, the former college star at Bryant University Bulldogs is clearly undaunted by the prospect of filling such big shoes.
"I'm just excited to be here and keep this wave (of success) going," Starks said.
"Obviously the goal is to repeat, but right now I have had two trainings so far, (and) we're still waiting on a few guys to come in.
"But you can kind of feel the expectations and the buzz in the locker room. The guys are hungry to get it again."
Starks, who arrived from Minnesota this week, said his initial impressions were that Harvey and his coaching staff had done an excellent job in keeping the playing group focused amid outside talk on whether the Braves could go back-to-back.
"We create a lot of short-term goals for ourselves," he said.
"What I have seen in the championship teams I have played on back in the States, or wherever I've played ball, if you focus on the little goals, they kind of add up and accumulate to the final goal which is to win it.
"I think takes the pressure off you - it just puts the focus on us getting better every day."
The 188cm shooting guard had an outstanding college career, averaging 18.6 points per game in his senior year to be the leading scorer in the North East Conference.
He tied for 10th that season in three-pointers made in the entire division one college system.
Starks adds to a Braves roster laden with three-point threats, led by returning veteran Chris Hogan, who nailed 76 at a league-best 47.8 per cent, Daniel Hansen (34 at 37 per cent) and new recruit and Adelaide 36ers point guard Adam Doyle.
The American has left no stone unturned in his preparation, including regular contact with the Braves second import Du’Vaughn Maxwell while back in the US.
He was also in constant contact with his coach and knows exactly the role Harvey has in mind for him.
"I talked to coach Harvey all the time, my job is to score with the ball on this team, the same as Jeremy Kendle last year" Starks said.
"My job is to come in and hopefully give the same offensive boost to this team.
"I know defensively too I like to get after it.
"Being a huge impact player on both ends of the floor is my goal this year."
One of the early joys for Starks in Bendigo has been learning about the Braves' various rivalries with other SEABL powerhouses Ballarat Miners and Dandenong Rangers.
The Braves open their season against the Rangers on March 25.
And while Starks will get his first taste of the storied Bendigo-Ballarat rivalry in a practice match next Friday night, he is already imagining to be every bit as tense at that between his native Minnesota and neighbouring Wisconsin back home.