Jeremy Kendle returning to Bendigo Braves in 2018

THE Bendigo Braves’ bid to return to SEABL title contenders has begun with the signing of star American import Jeremy Kendle for 2018.

Kendle was instrumental in leading the Braves to the SEABL national title in 2016 with a brilliant all-round season in which he averaged 27.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game and was the winner of the league MVP.

The 29-year-old departed the Braves after the 2016 season and has since spent time playing in the NBL as a replacement player with both the Brisbane Bullets and Sydney Kings, as well as playing for the Canterbury Rams in New Zealand and South West Pirates in Queensland.

But in what’s a massive kickstart into the Braves’ 2018 season, Kendle’s return was confirmed on Thursday as the club’s first signing announcement.

“I’m really excited to be coming back to Bendigo,” Kendle said.

“At the end of the day, the club doesn’t just look at me as an asset for basketball, they care about me as a person, the community is really behind the basketball program, there’s a winning tradition there and obviously some team-mates who I built great relationships with back in 2016.

“Overall, it’s a great fit for me and my wife’s (Nadia) wellbeing on and off the court and I feel like I will be able to grow as a leader. It was an offer that we couldn’t pass up.”

Kendle packed plenty of scoring punch for the Braves during his stellar 2016 season, particularly late in the regular season during one stretch of six-consecutive games where he scored 34, 35, 43, 30, 36 and 38 points, while he later scored 34 in the championship win over Mount Gambier.

After the high of the 2016 national championship in which they ended the season with a 24-3 record, the Braves this year tumbled down the ladder, failing to make the play-offs.

However, coach Ben Harvey is confident that the return of Kendle will be the first piece in the puzzle of the Braves regaining their status as one of the SEABL’s top teams.

Jeremy Kendle's 2016 season

Jeremy Kendle's 2016 season

“Jeremy made a huge impact for us in one season in 2016 both on and off the floor,” Harvey said.

“He’s the ultimate team man, he’s a winner and we think we can win a national championship again with Jeremy back at the club. He’s a massive asset to us.”