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Ishikawa Prefecture awarded bj-league expansion team for 2015-16 season

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The bj-league will add a 23rd team for the 2015-16 season, it announced on Friday.

An expansion franchise has been awarded to Ishikawa Prefecture. The franchise’s home city will be revealed at a later time, according to a news release.

The Ishikawa Prefecture’s pro basketball establishment preparatory committee is headed by Daisuke Akaike, former Shimane Susanoo Magic president.

The new team’s nickname has not yet been determined.

The bj-league began play in the fall of 2005 with six teams. For a decade now, the fledgling circuit’s growth has included new franchises joining the league every year since then, which is unprecedented for pro basketball.

There are currently 22 teams in the league, with 12 in the Eastern Conference and 10 in the Western Conference.

Three franchises have left the bj-league: the Tokyo Apache (2011), Miyazaki Shining Suns (2013) and Chiba Jets (2013). The Apache and Shining Suns both folded due to financial problems, while the Jets defected to the rival National Basketball League (NBL).

New players: The Saitama Broncos have signed forwards Gary Johnson and Brian Ormon, the team revealed on Friday.

Johnson, 23, wrapped up his college career this year at University of Albany (New York). He had a season-best 28 points against the University of Maine on Jan. 18. He averaged 11.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 32 games (30 starts) as a senior.

Before attending Albany, the 198-cm Johnson attended Oxnard (California) College, a two-year school.

On Johnson’s player biography page on the university website, Albany coach Will Brown is quoted as saying: “Gary (Johnson) is a very versatile big wing who excels on both ends of the court. He does a great job of attacking the rim on offense and can guard multiple positions on defense. He is an excellent athlete as well.”

Ormon, 31, played for Stade Nabeulien in the Tunisian League. He contributed 19.6 points and 9.5 rebounds in 12 games. In 2012-13, he competed for Tundja Yambol in Bulgaria’s NBL, averaging 10.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 25 games. He was listed as a Harlem Globetrotter for the 2010-11 season. (Former Broncos coach Tracy Williams, who led the club for the 2012-13 campaign was a former Harlem Globetrotter, too.)

Before turning pro, Ormon played college ball at Monroe Community College, an NJCAA Division II school, Globe Institute of Technology and two NAIA colleges, Point Loma Nazarene University and Mountain State, the latter in 2009-10, when he averaged 14.7 points and 11.6 rebounds in 29 games.

The Broncos went 5-47 last season, the worst record in the bj-league.