The Chiba Jets, looking to snap a 14-game losing streak, are on the verge of signing former bj-league MVP Justin Burrell, a basketball insider told The Japan Times on Tuesday evening.
The Jets (4-14) are in their first season in the NBL since defecting from the bj-league.
Burrell, a power forward, played for current Chiba Jets head coach Reggie Geary during the 2011-12 season when both men were a part of the Yokohama B-Corsairs’ inaugural season. Burrell was the league MVP that season, leading Yokohama to the Final Four and posting averages of 18.7 points and 9.9 rebounds.
Geary is in his first year as Chiba coach after guiding Yokohama to a bj-league title in May.
This season, Burrell, a St. John’s University alum, played eight games for Cholet Basket in France’s Pro A League, averaging 14.6 minutes, 4.6 points and 2.1 rebounds while converting 16 of 24 shots from the field, according to eurobasket.com.
Burrell starred for the French Pro B squad Chalons-Reims last season, averaging 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Former B-Corsairs forward Thomas Kennedy made his Chiba debut on Saturday. He replaced Faye Pape Mour on the Jets roster.
In an April 2012 interview with The Japan Times, Geary discussed Burrell’s important role as Yokohama’s marquee player.
“Justin has become more and more comfortable with being our go-to guy and with the responsibilities that come with it,” Geary said.
“He’s a tireless worker, a good teammate who’s quick to laugh with others, and unselfish to a fault at times,” the coach added.
For the same article, then-Sendai 89ers coach Bob Pierce was asked to give his assessment of Burrell. Pierce responded by saying, “He’s a very physical player who’s athletic enough that he can get into the paint and score over people. … He plays within himself and doesn’t force things and he trusts his teammates. You can tell just by listening to him on the court he’s a great team player. He listens to his coach. He talks to his teammates. And it’s rare to find somebody who has both those qualities as a young player coming out of college.”