The big loss for the Mill Rats and their franchise is all-star Doug Herring Jr. The shooting guard averaged 18 points per game, and also finished in the top 10 in assists, steals, and 3-point percentage. Herring also played a crucial role in the Mill Rats lone playoff win.
Lawrence Wright was another late-season acquisition that helped Saint John secure the Atlantic Division title. The former Halifax Rainmen player shot 59% and averaged 12 points in as many games.
Jermaine Blackburn who averaged just under 13 points a game, and shot the third best free-throw percentage in the nation will not be returning. Late-season acquisition Amani Daanish was plagued with injuries in his stint with Saint John.
Guards - Anthony Anderson, Aquille Carr, Raheem Singleton, Dane Smith, Jabs Newby, Evan Roberts.
Under the leadership of reigning league MVP Anthony Anderson and new addition Aquille Carr, the Mill Rats back court is scary just to think about. Double-A led the NBL in 2013-14 in scoring with over 24 points per contest, while also averaging 5.6 helpers. Basketball fans in the Port City are in for one heck of a treat with these two stars.
Raheem "Radio" Singleton proved to be an effective scorer for the Mill Rats who brought grit and determination with him every game. The main issue reflected on the score sheet, was Radio's consistency. The Boston-native had five 18+ point performances, including a 33 point breakout against Mississauga, but finished the campaign hovering around 10 points per game. If the former Maine Red Claw can stay strong mentally, he will have no problem producing for Saint John.
Torontonian, Dane Smith was another member of the Rats who is capable of a big performance, but often didn't have the opportunity with the minutes he was provided. Smith appeared in 19 games for Saint John and averaged just three points a game, but rewarded his squad with great hustle and a strong defensive presence. While many remember him for his appearance in the Toronto Raptors' "We The North" commercial, the Mill Rats and their fans remember his strong 14-point contribution in the win against the eventual champion, the Windsor Express.
Forwards/Centers - Tyrone Levett, Eric Crookshank, Kenny Jones, Modibo Diarra, Peter Wedge, Naofall Folahan, Jahmal McQueen, Anthony Winbush, John Paul Nyadaro.
In the inaugural NBL Canada season, Tyrone Levett and Eric Crookshank led Halifax to game five of the NBLC Finals against London. They both return after a disappointing playoff run, hungry for a championship. Levett is an all-around weapon for SJ; he has a solid inside scoring ability at 6'5, while also being able to shoot the three-ball well (41% last year) and is strong defensively. He averaged 16 points per contest in 2013-14, and shot 86% from the charity stripe and finished in the top 13 in defensive rebounding.
Eric "Air Canada" Crookshank joined the Southern New Brunswickers around the holidays, and gradually got back into the rhythm of playing pro ball. Crookshank posted just four points over his first three contests, but went on to average eleven per game for the rest of the season versus Atlantic Division opponents. He finished at the top of the leaderboards in field goal percentage, as well as second in offensive boards and fourth in rebounds per game.
Many other new faces will be looked upon to contribute to a rather new Mill Rats front court. Kenny Jones shined in his 2012-13 stretch with Saint John, while fan favourite Modibo Diarra has returned alongside several new signings at the forward position.
Coach - Julian King
The Port City Ballers lost Rob Spon to the Rochester Razorsharks of the PBL, but Spon had great things to say about Saint John's new bench boss. "Julian is a great coach, and I told Ian [McCarthy] if he didn't hire him, I would have hired him as an my assistant in Rochester," said Spon. "He was a former pro in the minor leagues and in Europe so he will do a great job relating to the players, I have no doubt."
King made his name known in his playing days, when he was under the reigns of Hall of Fame Coach John Chaney at Temple University. He also participated in NBA camps - as well as the ABA - and has played in several countries overseas.
The DC Native coached T.C. Williams High School to the AAA Virginia State Title, the school featured in the film, "Remember The Titans". He also worked as an advanced scout in the WNBA for the Connecticut Sun.
Assistants Randy Loatman, Paul Vaughan, and Aaron Drummond will all return to the coaching staff for the upcoming campaign.
The Mill Rats were hurt by the injury bug in the dwindling weeks of the 2013-14 season. With added depth to the backcourt, and some size at the forward positions, they've put themselves in a good position to make a run deep into the playoffs.
It was not secret that Mill Rats rebounding game is what hurt them last year, especially in the early months of the season. The addition of Eric Crookshank was a big help, but by bringing size and athleticism throughout the draft, it appears they've gotten their squad to where they want to be.