Despite a solid 3-2 start to the season, Greek A1 team Peristeri Athens announced that they were releasing former Illinois big man and Golden State Warriors camp invite Shaun Pruitt, as well as Rhode Island forward Will Daniels, to be replaced by Utah natives Spencer Nelson and Gary Wilkinson.
Nelson has not signed anywhere this season after being released by the Utah Jazz in training camp. It was rumoured that he was to sign with an unnamed Belgian team as of only last week, yet that’s not going to happen now. Nelson played in Greece last year with Aris Thessaloniki, and averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds on the season. He’s a tweener forward without any distinct position, but wherever he goes he rebounds, passes, and scores a bit with an inside/outside game.
This is Wilkinson’s first professional season at the ripe old age of 27. (The reason for that is described here.) He had spent the season to date in the South Korean KBL, after being made the 11th overall pick in their draft this summer. He was averaging 9.2 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16 minutes per game for Dongbu Promy, splitting court time with their other American import, Marquin Chandler. (A silly KBL rule says that each team can have only two Americans, but the two can’t play on the court at the same time.)
Peristeri haven’t had much luck with their imports this year. They first signed Cedric Simmons, but had to release him in preseason after deciding he was not up to par. Three of their other four American players – Jamie Arnold, Marcus Faison and Michael Bramos – all hold European passports (Israeli, Belgian and Greek respectively), which absolves them of being counted as Americans. And the fourth (Cliff Hammonds) is doing OK, averaging 12.6 points and 3.4 assists on the season. (Greek teams are allowed a maximum of three American players, yet any American with an additional European passport does not count as one of them.)
By releasing Pruitt, Peristeri ridded themselves of their only real size inside, so clearly they think the two incoming forwards are skilled enough to be worth it. Pruitt and Daniels were both said to have been released for poor performance; Daniels had averaged 6.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 fouls per game, and Pruitt had totalled 5 points and 8 rebounds in only 24 minutes on the season.
Both Nelson and Wilkinson are Utah State graduates and practising Mormons. They share an agent, Ben Pensack. That’s probably not going to be a coincidence, really.