Manchester Giants have completed the sensational signing of Sam Cassell Jr – the son of infamous three-time NBA Champion and former All-Star Sam Cassell – as a key component in their rebuild for the 2020-21 British Basketball League (BBL) season, under new ownership and in a new venue at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Belle Vue.

Cassell Jr. is a 28-year-old, 6’4″ guard who has twice featured in the NBA Summer League, first for the Cleveland Cavaliers and latterly, in 2018, for the Washington Wizards. He had an NBA Summer League best performance of eight points and two assists against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2017. In those games he has matched up with NBA stars such as LA Lakers guard Alex Caruso, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who averaged 19 points per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season.

Since, Cassell Jr. played for BBG Herford in Germany, where he led the team on a season average of 21 points, five rebounds and four assists per game, while shooting 35% from three-point range, and finishing as a Conference First Team selection as Herford won 73% of their games in 2018-19.

Previously, Cassell Jr. enjoyed a good college career at the NCAA Division 1 level, averaging 11 points and three assists for the Iona Gaels in New York, as a key component on a team that won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament in 2016-17 and made an NCAA Tournament trip. They lost in the NCAA Tournament to Oregon, despite Cassell Jr. scoring 16 points.

He had transferred to Iona as a Senior, having previously had an injury-plagued two years at the NCAA powerhouse UConn Huskies. Before that, he averaged 19 points and four assists in the Junior College ranks at Chipola College, being named an NJCAA First Team All-American, leading his team to a Regional Championship and the Elite Eight of the National Tournament.

Cassell Jr. is from a great lineage, being born the year before his father entered the NBA with the Houston Rockets. Cassell Sr. won an NBA Championship in each of his first two seasons with the Rockets, and then won a further title in his final season with the Boston Celtics in 2008-09. 

Sam Cassell Jr. said: “I’m very excited to join the Manchester giants, excited to meet my teammates, the fans, the coaches and the whole city in general. I’ve heard a lot about the BBL and how competitive it is, my team has a lot of work to do, we’re going to be prepared.”

Head Coach Danny Byrne said: “A signing of this magnitude signals a step-change in what we are trying to do as a club,  and in our effort to put Manchester Giants back on the map. Make no mistake about it, we would not be bringing Sam here if he did not tick all of our boxes during the scouting process. We found no other player with a comparable IQ for the game, with size, experience, and the ability to both score and facilitate from the combo guard position.

“I expect leadership from Sam this season, and I am really looking forward to seeing how he operates alongside Jack Hudson in our backcourt, and with the other pieces that we have put in place.

“A number of teams in the recent past have started a British point guard alongside an American combo guard to great effect – noticeably Bristol as they made a run to the BBL Cup Final last season. With the emergence of Jack last year we felt confident that we could have success with that too, and it’s what has enabled us to pursue this signing.”