The Cockburn Cougars have added a strong big man presence with great experience internationally since turning professional with the signing of Demetris Morant for the 2024 NBL1 West season.
The Cougars continue to put together an impressive looking roster ahead of the upcoming season under new coach Mark Clayden with a versatile and experienced big man import the latest addition.
With club greats Gavin Field and Seva Chan having already committed to play on at the Cougars in 2024, former NBL guard Hunter Clarke has also joined Cockburn while current South East Melbourne Phoenix forward and four-time NBL champion Rhys Vague has committed to return as well.
Now the Cougars can confirm the signing of Morant and he brings with him quite the impressive resume with him for what will be his first venture to play in Australia.
After attending high school in Nevada, Morant started his college career at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before transferring to Florida Gulf Coast University. By his senior year he was a standout as ASUN Conference Defensive Player of the Year and making the All-Tournament Team.
Since then it’s been a big of a varied ride as a professional around the world for the now 31-year-old 6’9 versatile big man who has played in Greece, Germany, Thailand, Kosovo and most recently Romania.
Morant has enjoyed the experiences that come from playing in different leagues and living in different countries, but was looking for a fresh start. That’s where playing with the Cougars in the NBL1 West soon became quite the attractive option.
While it’s going to be a steep learning curve to adjust to playing and living in Australia for the first time, Morant is excited for what lies ahead.
“Coming to play in Australia, I’m expecting to play against tough competition, win as many games as we can,” Morant said.
“I’m expecting to make it far in the playoffs.”
As for the team he’s joining, there will be a whole lot of new faces for Morant to get to know once he arrives at the Cougars with everyone from Field ahead of his final season to the next generation coming through, and he likes the look of the group he’ll be coming into.
“It seems like we have a lot of talent on our team. I’m not expecting anything crazy from them, I’m hoping everyone has a drive to want to win,” Morant added.
“I’m looking forward getting familiar with everyone and making lasting relationships.”
Morant is no stranger to having to adjust to a new environment both with the different standards and style of play, and officiating, that he has come across right throughout his career over the last seven years since turning professional.
And as he looks back now, he might have preferred the level of basketball in Europe more but liked the lifestyle in Asia a little better so it’s a bit of a mixed bag with what you get wherever you go.
“Coming from college straight to Europe was a huge change and really challenging,” he said.
“I had to adjust to the different rules and the style of play. The competition in Europe is much better the in Asia but I enjoyed being in Asia more. ”
Cougars head coach Mark Clayden knew it was a very specific jigsaw piece to finish off this year’s roster, and Morant fills just that.
“His skill set will really compliment our group,” he said.
“Being a real threat at the rim will generate opportunities for others at the offensive end, while his ability to defend the rim will add another layer to our defensive focus this year.
“What stood out was just his love to play basketball and integrating himself into the team – the questions he asked were reflective of a great fit culturally.
“A key part of our recruiting strategy this year has been to find some playing experience to share with our young group – Demetris has extensive experience at an international level and exactly how to role model what a pro looks like for our players.”
Perhaps one thing the Cougars team of 2024 was missing was that strong interior presence who could be a defensive force to be a big body in the paint, a rim protector and strong rebounder.
Then also someone who can be a bit of a post presence at the other end, and with the athletic and shooting talent Cockburn will have around him, Morant does look to be quite the good fit for the team he’s coming into.
“That definitely sums me up. I’m a great defender and really athletic,” Morant said.
“One thing I’m not is a selfish player, I like when everyone is involved and I try to make sure everyone is involved.”
Morant is now counting down to when he will make the move down under to join the Cougars and there’s plenty about the whole experience he’s looking forward to both in terms of the lifestyle change and the basketball.
“I’ll be arriving the end of March. I’m not having any expectations coming out there,” Morant said.
“I’m just looking forward to it and I’m ready to open my eyes to see new world. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia and now I have the chance to live there for a while. It’s exciting!”