The Manchester Giants have today announced that three club legends – Callum Jones, James Jones, and Ingus Bankevics – won’t be returning to play for the club in the 2020/2021 season.

It’s the end of an era for the trio who have 17 years of service between them and hold an array of club records, as three of only thirteen players who have played 100 or more British Basketball League (BBL) Championship games for Manchester Giants, new and old. They have a combined 507 games for the club in all competitions, and 435 in league action over the last eight campaigns.

Callum Jones breaks the Giants scoring record.

Manchester-native Callum Jones, who turns 35 in October, is second only to Danny Craven with 213 BBL Championship appearances for Giants, and is the club’s all-time record points scorer, amassing 2,559 league points breaking the record amazingly with the very last basket that he scored for the club against Leicester Riders, in the curtailed 2019-20 season.

He also holds the record for total assists, with what may prove to be an unassailable 902 in Championship action, with his brother James Jones, on 480, second in that category. On a per game basis, James is fourth in club history with 4.8 assists per outing, and Callum is seventh on 4.2.

Callum’s strongest single season was 2015-16, when he averaged 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, although he was renowned for his consistency as he captained the side for many years.

All three feature in the club’s top ten for total points scored. In addition to Callum, Bankevics is sixth on 1,890, and James Jones also cracked the top ten in the 2019-20 campaign, rising above former teammates David Aliu and David Watts into ninth on 1,056 career points. Were it not for COVID-19, Bankevics was expected to also pass former teammate Stefan Gill (1,941), while James Jones was in pursuit of Trevor Gordon (1,082).

Bankevics, like Callum, also broke a club record in that final game against Leicester, as he passed Stefan Gill to become the all-time leader in three-pointers made, with 283 in the BBL Championship. The 35-year-old Latvian – who has become an honourary Mancunian in his five years with the club – has averaged 15.5 points per game over 122 BBL Championship games, putting him in the top 25 in club history, while shooting those triples at a 37.7% clip. Bankevics was the sixth leading scorer in the BBL last season, returning his highest points per game for Giants of 16.9 in the campaign.

James, who turns 37 in December, joined Giants on its return to the BBL in 2012, having his best season in making the Play-offs in 2013-14, averaging 14 points and seven assists per outing, shooting the three at 41%. He initially retired and coached in Canada, but made a surprise return to playing with the successful 2018-19 team, although his season was curtailed soon after the midway point by an ankle injury, after which the team’s form fluctuated.

As with the others, the final game of last season against Leicester was also significant for James as it was his 100th league game for the club.

In a statement tinged with sadness, Coach Danny Byrne said “This has not been an easy decision to make and one that I’ve not enjoyed making, but at some point you have to make the decision to end one era and start a new one, and the coaching and management staff felt that now was that time. We’ll move forward with a younger core group of local talent.

They have been the backbone of the playing staff throughout my tenure, and while it has been a roller coaster, I have been able to count on them throughout and I thank them for that. They have been fantastic servants for the club, and I am grateful to have been a part of that and to have shared some great moments, particularly in 2018-19.”

Jamie Edwards heaped praise on the trio: “Callum, James and Ingus are part of the Manchester Giants fabric, their list of records and contributions to the game speak for themselves and this is a decision that has been agonised over, we can’t deny it. 

Coming out of a season like we have just had, we have to ask tough questions, and tough questions give you tough answers and this club needs to follow a new path and plant seeds for the future.”

BBL Championship career averages for Manchester Giants:

Callum Jones, eight seasons from 2012-13 to 2019-20: 213 games, 12.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 53.6% field goals.

Ingus Bankevics, five seasons from 2014-15 to 2019-20: 122 games, 15.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 37.7% three-pointers, 80.9% free-throws.

James Jones: four seasons between 2012-13 and 2019-20: 100 games, 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 35.9% three-pointers.