Bendigo Braves sign former NBA Development League player C. J. Aiken as their new import


THE final piece of the puzzle for the defending SEABL champions has arrived in Bendigo.

Pennsylvania native C. J. Aiken hit the court for the first time with his new Bendigo Braves teammates for the first time on Sunday, only hours after arriving from the United States.

The former Sacramento Kings Las Vegas Summer League player showed few signs of fatigue from his long trek across the Pacific.

Aiken, who had a productive US college career across three years for Pennsylvania-based St Joseph's, is a late replacement for Du'Vaughn Maxwell, who struck VISA issues in his bid to play in the SEABL.

The 209-centimetre 26-year-old said he was persuaded to join the Braves for their championship defence in talks with coach Ben Harvey.

"I just felt welcomed ... and he's a good coach. I've heard all great things about this program, " Aiken said.

Aiken will bring a wealth of experience to the Braves through stints in the Polish Basketball League club Wilki Morskie Szczecin and NBA Development League with the Erie Bay Hawks.

He also possesses great athleticism and a strong defensive presence in the mould of 2016 Braves championship player and SEABL defensive player of the year Damien Johnson.

With the season tip-off for the Braves due this Saturday against the Dandenong Rangers, Aiken was confident his late arrival would not be tom much of a hindrance.

"It might a little bit, but by next week I should be 100 per cent," he said.

"I'm still going to give it my all this weekend for the first game."

Harvey said Aiken would undoubtedly take a few days to acclimatise to Australia, but was glad to finally have his full squad together after the uncertainty surrounding Maxwell's VISA application.

"(Aiken) is exactly what we need for this group - he's going to fill in the gaps," he said.

"He was the defensive player of the year at his college, he's got a seven foot two wingspan.”

"Once he gets his feet you are going to see someone pretty spectacular at the Bendigo Stadium."

Aiken joins former Bryant University Bulldogs standout Dyami Starks as the Brave two imports for this season.

Th reigning champions will unfurl their championship banner before this Saturday night's season opener against Dandenong.