THE Bendigo Hume and Iser Braves are on the verge of signing South East Australian Basketball League 2004 most valuable player Shawn Redhage.
Braves coach Wayne Larkins has had extensive talks with 23-year-old Redhage, who led the North West Tasmania Thunder to this year's SEABL south conference championship.
Larkins said yesterday Redhage is yet to sign with the Braves, but according to NW Tasmania coach Mark Radford the deal is as good as done.
Redhage, who is presently playing with the New Zealand Breakers in the National Basketball League, told Radford earlier this week he would not be returning to the Thunder in 2005.
"From what Shawn's told us he has accepted the Bendigo offer over ours," Radford said.
"It's very disappointing for our club because Shawn is a great person and a great player." Larkins is waiting on a final answer from Redhage.
"He certainly hasn't signed with us yet," Larkins said.
"If he had signed by now I'd be jumping up and down and telling everyone.
"Until I have a contract in front of me with Shawn's signature on it, I won't be getting excited." Redhage's signature would be the Braves' biggest recruiting coup since two-time national MVP Ricky Daniels joined the club five years ago.
Redhage, who was recruited by the Thunder from leading American college Arizona State, made a huge impact on the SEABL.
The 203 cm forward averaged 35 points and 15 rebounds per game to be a unanimous choice as the most influential player in the SEABL.
"He's an outstanding talent," Larkins said.
"He can play on the perimeter or inside and he is a tremendous rebounder." Meanwhile, Larkins is still in negotiations with Daniels and former Mt Gambier Pioneers point guard Sam Fotu.
Daniels remains undecided on his playing future, while Fotu has accepted a job with radio station 3BO-fm and is expected to sign a contract with the Braves in the next few weeks.
"We're pretty happy with where we are at," Larkins said.
"As far as recruiting goes we're well ahead on where we were at the same time last year."