The South East Melbourne Phoenix have announced the signing of high-flying American point guard Keifer Sykes as their second import on a one-year deal.
The 26-year-old Chicago native has played for a number of clubs across the world – most recently at EuroLeague giants Panathinaikos – since finishing a stellar college career at Green Bay.
He’s also represented Cleveland, Golden State and Denver at the NBA Summer League, and the Austin Spurs in the NBA G-League.
Sykes won two Horizon League Player of the Year awards at college, has led the Turkish Basketball League in scoring, and averaged over 28 points in China.
He says winning an NBL title with the Phoenix is the driving factor behind his latest move.
“I just believed that this was my best chance to win a championship,” Sykes said.
“I came over here to be a point guard, to lead, and to win. My number one thing I want to always do is win.
“I think the NBL will bring out the best in all of my abilities and that’s why I’m excited to be here. I just want to win at the end of the day and take this team to the playoffs and see how far we can go.”
The 5’11 (180cm) point guard is known for his elite athleticism and jaw-dropping dunks, having participated in multiple dunk contests over his career.
“I like to play an exciting style of basketball; dunks and plays that people have never seen,” he said.
“I’m excited to meet the fans, meet the team, meet the staff, and I’m just excited for this season.”
Sykes joins star forward Mitch Creek, fellow Chicago import Ben Moore and Australian Boomer Cam Gliddon in an exciting Phoenix line-up.
Phoenix Head Coach Simon Mitchell first saw Sykes play in Las Vegas in 2018 when he was travelling as an assistant coach with Melbourne United and said the guard “dominated the session” and “terrified opposition guards”.
Mitchell and Phoenix CEO Tommy Greer watched him play with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Summer League last year and sparked a mutual interest with the guard, now coming into fruition a year on.
“I love his speed, quickness, and tenacity. It stands out on both sides of the ball,” Mitchell said.
“His ability to score or deliver to teammates out of the pick and roll is exceptional and will be enhanced with the shooting we will be putting on the floor with him. He also has that next level athletic ability when he gets into the paint.
“Most importantly, from our discussions, Keifer just talks about winning and his willingness to do whatever it will take to win.”
Phoenix CEO Tommy Greer added: “Keifer is an incredibly talented and exciting player who we’ve had our eyes on for a while now, so it’s fantastic to secure him as the final piece of our roster.
“With Keifer’s inclusion adding to what we believe is already a really strong squad, we have high hopes of making a finals push and shaking things up in our second season.”
Sykes is currently quarantining in Sydney and is set to arrive in Melbourne and will join the team’s NBL21 preparations in mid-to-late December.
The Phoenix roster now includes Keifer Sykes (import), Ben Moore (import), Mitch Creek, Cam Gliddon, Reuben Te Rangi, Kyle Adnam, Dane Pineau, Kendall Stephens, Yanni Wetzell, Adam Gibson, Izayah Le’afa (development player), Tristan Forsyth (development player).
The club’s main roster is now complete, with an optional ‘Next Star’ prospect the only possible addition.