Happy place: Clark, Chappell back to their Casa in Brindisi
BRINDISI (Italy) - Happy Casa Brindisi finished second in the Regular Season in Italy last season, which booked them a ticket to the 2021-22 Basketball Champions League. They got to the Play-Offs in the BCL in 2020-21, but could not make it through to the Final 8, falling just short.
Back in charge of another European run is Frank Vitucci. The 58-year-old is one of the most respected coaches in all of Europe, especially in Italy, where he picked up seasonal awards for the best coach, and has transformed basketball in Brindisi since taking over in 2017.
Here is what Vitucci has on the court in 2021-22.
Alessandro Zanelli, Alessandro Guido, Riccardo Visconti, Raphael Gaspardo, Mattia Udom and Nick Perkins were already here in 2020-21. When you consider the fact that Brindisi reached out to two of their former players, it's clear that the goal was to bring in the players who know the environment of the PalaPentassuglia.
Jeremy Chappell is already 34, and has been a double digit scorer for most of his life. The shooting guard played for Brindisi back in 2018-19, averaging 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, with 1.8 steals per game also to his name back then.
Chappell played in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and Italy since coming overseas back in 2009. Back in 2016-17, he was a part of the Banvit Bandirma team which reached the title game in the inaugural season of the Basketball Champions League, but lost out to Tenerife in San Cristobal de La Laguna.
Another man returning home to Brindisi is Wes Clark. The 26-year-old point guard played for the Missouri Tigers and the Buffalo Bulls in the NCAA, and then got his first European experience in Brindisi in 2018-19, appearing in 18 games for the club.
Clark averaged 9.3 points back then, and moved to Cantu and Niners Chemnitz afterwards. Last season, he was playing with Umana Reyer Venezia, meaning this will be the third time in the last four seasons that Clark and Chappell are teammates - they played together in Brindisi the first time and in Venezia.
The only other more experienced international player coming in is Lucio Redivo. The Argentine point guard played for Bahia from 2012 to 2017, and then finally made the move to Europe after a season in which he had 17.1 points per game in 54 appearances for the club.
Redivo played in Bilbao and Breogan, then had a short spell in Mexico, and completely dominated the second division in Italy in 2020-21. With Monferrato, the 27-year-old had 21.5 points per game, dishing out 4.1 assists and grabbing a career-best 3.2 rebounds per game.
The other new players still have a lot of basketball in front of them. Myles Carter will cover the center position, playing at the highest level of his career so far. The 24-year-old spent five seasons in the NCAA with the Seton Hall Pirates, Seattle Redhawks and Delaware State Hornets, getting his first taste of pro basketball in the Turkish second division, playing for Budo Gemlik last season.
Carter averaged 15.7 points and 7.8 rebounds over 26 games, earning a call up from one of the best domestic leagues in Europe, getting a chance to show his worth on an international stage in the BCL, too.
Nathan Adrian is 26, and playing his third European season after graduating from West Virginia. Adrian dominated the lower division basketball in France in 2019-20, and a trip to Ukraine turned out to be a successful one in 2020-21, as Nathan averaged 17.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for Mykolaiv.
Josh Perkins celebrated his 26th birthday over the summer. Another point guard, Perkins spent five years with Gonzaga, and played for the Greensboro Swarm and Texas Legends in the NBA G League. He played out the 2020-21 season in Poland and Serbia, playing for Gliwice and Partizan, getting 14 points and 7 assists per game in Poland.
Gonzaga Josh Perkins High a School mixtape was 🤧🤧 pic.twitter.com/2kmlyTjcxm— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 30, 2019
There is a new Italian player in town, too. Scott Ulaneo is a former Stella Azzurra Academy member in Rome, who chose the NCAA for his development. Ulaneo played for Seattle, then Hawaii Pacific, before redshirting the 2019-20 season and moving to Davenport, good enough for 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He is 23, and stands tall at 6'10''/2.08m.