Award named after Eric

Tonight sees the End of Season Awards for the Riders BBL & WBBL squads at Morningside Arena. As a special dedication, the club has announced that the Coach’s Player of the Year will be named after Eric Robertson.

Eric, who passed away earlier this year, was a part of the Riders family from 2016 to 2018, making 87 BBL appearances and winning six trophies (x2 Trophy, x2 League, x2 Playoff).

The Coach’s Player of the Year goes to that player who stands for everything a coach would want in a player both on and off court.

It’s an honour for us to recognise Eric’s impact and his legacy through the Eric Robertson Award.

Award-Winning Foundation Coaches.

We’re proud to announce,  Coach Karen Burton has been selected for Hoopsfix All-Star Classic 2022 Head Coach whilst Academy and Community Coach Keenan Thomas has won Coach of the Year in the Loughborough College Sports Awards.

Riders win BBL Playoff Final!

The Leicester Riders secured the treble in a thriller at the O2, winning the BBL Playoff Final with a 78-75 victory against the London Lions. 

After being crowned back to back MVP a day previous, Geno Crandall took the game by the horns in the clutch to snatch the victory. He scored or assisted on the Riders’ last six buckets, and won the game with a steal on a Lions inbound with two seconds on the clock. 

Crandall was named the Final MVP with his 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. It is his third individual award of the season, after winning the BBL Cup Final MVP and league MVP earlier in the year. 

The Riders’ bench played a pivotal role in the game. Leicester entered the final quarter down eight, and the second unit led the charge back into the game, before handing the reigns to Crandall. Conner Washington was key down the stretch, his wealth of experience keeping Leicester heads cool in the heat of battle. 

For London, their star guard Isaiah Reese put up a monster 29 point performance, despite his team falling just short. The former G-Leaguer, who led the BBL in scoring this season, went back and forth with Crandall down the stretch, making big buckets back to back as the clock ticked down. 

And it was the Lions who had the better of the first period, starting the game 22-13. Their backcourt pairing of Dirk Williams and Reese scored 19 points in seven minutes to get the game underway. 

Two and-one plays, from Darien Nelson-Henry and Zach Jackson, marked Leicester’s highlights of the opening period, which finished 29-23 in London’s favour. They finished the first on a 6-2 run, with Mo Walker laying in a putback to cut it to six. 

The Riders turned to their captain, Nelson-Henry to start the second. The Kirkland born big man battled down low for back to back and-one plays, which tied the score and snatched the game’s momentum. 

A jaw-dropping underhand pass from Geno Crandall to Zach Jackson allowed the Riders to take the lead, which they grew going into the half. Leicester finished the second on a 13-6 run, taking an advantage into the locker rooms. Crandall, Jackson and Nelson-Henry had double-digit points by halftime, as Crandall’s basket to close the half made it 46-39. 

The Lions started the second half the stronger of the sides, with a three from Lorenzo Cugini taking a London lead four minutes into the third quarter. The Riders struggled to make shots, scoring five points in seven minutes out of the locker rooms. London continued their hot form through the quarter, taking an eight-point lead into the fourth. 

The Riders bolted out the gates in the final quarter, They scored five quick points, before a Washington steal in transition led to a Mo Walker jam to take the lead. Crandall checked in and took the reigns, scoring four points in under a minute to give the Riders an advantage going into crunch time. 

The sides traded buckets in a tense final few minutes. The Riders turned to their back to back MVP to steer them home. Crandall scored 10 points in the final six minutes to make it a three-point game with two seconds remaining. On the Lions’ cross-court inbound, Crandall came up with the steal to secure the Riders’ fifth BBL Playoff win. 

Geno crowned back to back MVP!

Geno Crandall has been named the 2021/22 Molten BBL MVP! Crandall has won the MVP in each of his two Riders seasons, becoming just the fourth player in BBL history to win the award back to back. 

It is Crandall’s second individual award this season, having picked up the BBL Cup final MVP in January. The Minneapolis born point guard’s 26 point performance in the final led the Riders to their first trophy this season, which they followed up with their sixth league title. 

Crandall has led the Riders to their biggest league winning margin in franchise history, as the Riders concluded the year with a 27-2 record, 16 points clear of second place. He put up his season high scoring effort to clinch the league title with 25 points against the Plymouth City Patriots. 

The Gonzaga graduate finished the season averaging 13.1 points and 6.8 assists, his assist tally ranking in the top five in the BBL. He also ranked second in +/- and top 10 in steals, as his efforts showed up all over the box score. 

May Bank Holiday Camp!

Get yourself ready for the LRF Camp!

The Leicester Riders Foundation will be running a May Camp at the home of the Leicester Riders, Morningside Arena.

Book before the 26th of May 2022 and get 10% off! Use code: EARLYMAY

The camp is available to participants of all abilities, beginner to intermediate, ages 8 – 16, providing opportunities for players to develop their game in a fun and safe environment with Leicester Riders Foundation community coaches.

Please bring plenty of water and a packed lunch with you on the day.

  • Individual day tickets are available at £20 a day
  • Full access (all three days) tickets are available at £45
  • Dates 30th May – 1st June 10 AM – 4 PM
  • Entry from 9:50 AM
  • Departure 3:55 PM
  • Morningside Arena 31 Charter Street Leicester, LE1 3UD
Rob named Coach of the Year!

Coach Rob Paternostro has been named the 2021/22 Molten Ed Percival BBL Coach of the Year! It is Rob’s seventh time receiving the award, the most in BBL history! 

Rob has led the Riders to their biggest ever winning margin, with their 27-2 record winning the title by 16 points. The Riders have secured two pieces of silverware this season, having won the BBL Cup final in January. 

Leicester became only the third team in BBL history to lead the league with the best offensive and defensive record this season, scoring 91 points per contest, while giving up 72 on the other end. 

The award is Rob’s third of the season, having been awarded two Coach of the Month Awards during the year!

The club granted Coach Rob an All-star Testimonial event being played on 11 June – be sure to get your ticket here.

Riders Under 14s reach the Final Fours.

Riders U14s have reached the Final Fours after their debut season was postponed due to COVID 19. Here is what player Kyrah Johnson and Head CoachMatt Barwell had to say about their achievement.

“Reaching the finals means more than I can put into words. The stress that Covid brought to our team is crazy as it canceled our debut season not once but twice. But this group got through it together, WhatsApping and Facetiming when we trained at home and meeting up to train outside in all weathers. Going through this made us not just a team but a group of friends first, and you can see that togetherness in how we play on the court.”

Kyrah Johnson, #14

To win the league in our debut season was unbelievable enough, but progressing through the play-offs and reaching the Final Fours is beyond anything we could have ever dreamt of. It’s nothing that these girls don’t deserve though – their dedication and determination has never wavered since we set up our Girls Academy pre-pandemic and they’re now reaping the benefits of all that hard work. I feel incredibly privileged to have coached these girls throughout this journey and, whatever happens, this weekend, I couldn’t be prouder of each and every one of them.

Matt Barwell, Head Coach

Coach Patel is Coming Home

Krumesh Patel will be rejoining his hometown Club as the head coach for the WBBL Riders team and the Loughborough University 1st Team on a three-year Contract. 

Patel has spent the last two years in Sweden as the head coach of the Wetterbygden Sparks. Prior to his stint in Sweden he played a major role in the Riders organisation. After graduating from the University of Leeds, Patel spent nine years at the club starting as a community coach, Head of Academy and then the Head Coach for the WBBL team. In 2018-19 Patel led the WBBL, WEABL and U18 youth programs to a 48-6 record, winning many National Championships including the WBBL Trophy and WEABL.

On his return to the Riders and journey over the last two years, Patel commented: 

“I’m Excited to come back home, it’s been a great couple of years in Sweden! I was able to experience a new style of play against some good teams and coaches so it was a great move and allowed growth. I also had the privilege to meet and work with some really good people which am grateful for and will continue to build on those connections and relationships.”

“A chance presented itself to come back, and the timing was right with other factors falling in line to allow this opportunity to occur.”

“After speaking with Russell, the opportunity to comeback to help move the program forwards and build towards Europe in the long term was extremely appealing!”

Patel finished saying “to be back in my hometown around familiar faces, friends and family is a great feeling.”

Managing Director of the Leicester Riders, Russell Levenston Commented: 

“It is great to have Krumesh return to the club. He was instrumental in building our Women’s programme and we look forward to him returning to take the programme to the next level. He is a very experienced coach who knows our club really well and I believe he is the right person to lead the Riders Women’s programme over the next three years.” 

“He has gained some really valuable experience over the last few years while coaching in Sweden and I believe we are getting an even better coach than when he left two years ago. We both have similar ambitions for the Women’s programme both on and off the court”

Patel’s immediate focus will be to look at recruitment for the 2022-23 season and utilise the off-season months to build the Women’s programme ready for pre-season training starting in August.

Three Riders named to BBL Team of the Year!

Geno Crandall, Darien Nelson-Henry and Patrick Whelan have been named to the Molten BBL Team of the Year! The trio led the Riders to a title-winning season, all playing pivotal roles in their success. 

Crandall finished the season averaging 13.1 points and 6.8 assists, his assist tally ranking in the top five in the BBL. The Gonzaga graduate also ranked second in +/- and top 10 in steals, as his efforts showed up all over the box score.

One of the league’s elite snipers, Whelan was the second-ranked three-point shooter in the BBL, shooting 48% from the field. He also led the Riders in scoring on the year, averaging 15.3 points per game. 

Nelson-Henry averaged an index rating of 28.8 this season, ranking second in the league. The Riders’ captain was an efficient force down low, leading the team to the title by a franchise-record margin with 12 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. 

BBL Playoff Final Preview- Riders vs Lions

The Riders face off against the London Lions in the BBL Playoff Final at the O2 Arena! The game will take place on Sunday, tipping off at 4:15. 

Get your tickets here! 

Road to the O2- Riders

After lifting the BBL Cup and winning the BBL Championship by a franchise-record margin, the Riders have fought their way through the playoffs in an attempt to secure the treble. They entered the playoffs on hot form, having lost just two games in the regular season to earn a first-round draw against the eighth-seeded Plymouth City Patriots. 

Patrick Whelan led them through the first leg with 19 points, as the Riders earned a 15 point advantage with a 86-71 road win. The Patriots fought back in the second leg, taking an aggregate lead in the third quarter. But Zach Jackson scored 10 straight points in response before Leicester saw out the game to book a spot in the semis. 

They faced the seventh-seeded Glasgow Rocks in the semi-final, who came into the tie fresh off the back of an underdog win against the two-seeded Sheffield Sharks. After a closely fought opening half in the first leg, the Riders put one foot in the final by the final buzzer, taking a 21 point lead into the return fixture behind Geno Crandall’s 32 points, 11 assists seven rebounds and five steals. 

In the second leg, the Riders sealed the win in a professional display, beating Glasgow 104-78. Crandall led the team with 22 points and eight assists in 25 minutes, and Conner Washington exploded for 10 points in the fourth to log 20 points in the game, the GB guard closing out an impressive win.

Journey to the O2- Lions

London entered the postseason as the third seed, falling short of their title-winning aspirations to finish the season with a 16-11 record. They found form to end the year, winning three on the bounce as they prepared to face the Cheshire Phoenix in the first round. 

They started the playoffs with a bang, beating the Phoenix by 16 in the first leg at home, led by 17 from Julian Washburn. In the second leg, Cheshire put a scare into the Lions, exploding out the gate to a 53-24 lead midway through the second. But London regained their composure at the half, fighting back to win the tie by 14 on aggregate.

In the semis, they met the Bristol Flyers, a team who had tested the Lions with close encounters throughout the season. The first leg was no different, as London edged an 85-83 win going back to the Copperbox. There was little between the sides by halftime in the return fixture, before the Lions exploded in the second half to book their place in the final. Star tandem Isaiah Reese and Dirk Williams scored 28 and 26 respectively to lead their team through the game.  

One to watch- Riders

To book the Riders’ place in the BBL Playoff final, Conner Washington’s season-high 20 points in 18 minutes put the game beyond doubt. The 11 year Rider shot 50% from the field and 44% from deep, putting on a vintage display for the fans. 

“To come out and be aggressive is always my game plan,” commented Washington postgame. “Coming into this game, I didn’t want to hold back. I wanted to play hard defence and find my shot.”

The Bedford born point guard is a spark plug off the bench for Leicester, coming into the game off the bench to provide elite shooting, playmaking and defence. He has earned 12 trophies for the Riders in his career and was named to the BBL All-Defensive and All-British first teams in 2017. 

Washington’s championship experience will prove vital at the O2. “In the final, we’ll come out and be aggressive, stick to our principles and do what we do,” said the Loughborough University graduate. “We’ve played the Lions throughout the season and know them really well. It’s going to be a great game to watch, but the main focus for us is to stick to what we’ve been doing.” 

One to watch- Lions

After leading the BBL in scoring through the season, London’s star guard Isaiah Reese has been on a tear in the postseason, averaging 23 points a game. His 28 point performance was his postseason highlight so far, stuffing the stat sheet with eight assists, eight rebounds and six steals. 

The 6’5” two-guard played two seasons in the NBA G-League before signing with London, scoring 8.3 points per game in his second year with the Santa Cruz Warriors. This came after a successful three-year college career with Canisius College, where he became the 38th player in the school’s history with over 1000 career points. 

Reese is a bucket from deep, shooting 39% from behind the arc this season on eight attempts per game. He led the team in points and assists, dishing six a game to demonstrate his ability to score, and get his teammates involved. 

Previous meetings

The sides met seven times this season in all competitions, with the Riders taking the season series 5-2. Leicester knocked London out of the BBL Cup semi-finals over two legs in their most high-profile games of the season, and won a 103-67 blowout in their most recent game. 

Geno Crandall and Zach Jackson balled out in the win, both scoring 16 points as Leicester shot 55% from three. The Lions endured a difficult shooting night, going 36% from the field and 21.2% from three, as Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini’s 16 points led them in the loss. 

Whelan named in BBL British Team of the Year!

Patrick Whelan has been named in the Molten BBL British Team of the Year! The Warrington-born two-guard led the Riders with 15.3 points per game this season, an integral part of their championship run. 

The GB international was the BBL’s second-best three-point shooter on the year, averaging 48% from deep. He scored 20 points on eight separate occasions, and recorded a career first double-double with a season-high 25 points and 11 rebounds in March. 

With two trophies in the cabinet this season so far, Patrick takes his spot in the side alongside Cheshire Phoenix’s BBL Trophy winners Teddy Okereafor and Michael Ochereobia, Rowell Graham-Bell (Patriots) and Dan Clark (Giants).

Riders Job opportunities

Leicester Riders have some new opportunities to join their programme. We are looking for a Physiotherapist/Sports Therapist, Physiotherapy Internship and four Strength & Conditioning Interns.

Physiotherapist/Sports Therapist
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Physiotherapy Internship
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Strength & Conditioning Work Experience/Intern (x4)
Download job description

Riders progress to BBL Playoff Final!

The Riders booked their spot in the BBL Playoff final, beating the Glasgow Rocks 209-162 over two legs. A 104-78 win in the return fixture marked a blowout win for the league champions, as Leicester showed composure and professionalism throughout. 

After his dominant display in the first leg, Geno Crandall led the team with 22 points and eight assists in 25 minutes. He averaged 27 points and nine assists over the two legs, asserting his authority in the fixtures. Off the bench, Conner Washington exploded for 10 points in the fourth to log 20 points in the game, the GB guard closing out an impressive win. 

Taking a 21 point advantage into the game, Leicester controlled the fixture, playing at their own pace to earn their spot in the final. They shot 52% from the field and a blistering 46% from three, stretching their lead to double digits in the third and not looking back. 

Off the bench, Falkirk native Fraser Malcolm led the Rocks with 17 points and six rebounds off the bench. Glasgow had no answer for the Riders’ BBL best offence in the two games, as the Riders scored over 100 in both. 

The Riders bolted out the gates to an emphatic 17-3 start, getting it done in both ends in the opening minutes. Zach Jackson’s monster block on Rocks’ big man Vance Johnson was the highlight of the early momentum, the Omaha graduate making an and-one play shortly after as the Riders ran away with the lead. 

After putting up a 32 point double-double in the first leg, Crandall continued his red hot form. He dished flashy passes and made tough shots from deep to lead Leicester to the lead, putting up nine points and four assists in the first. 

After being rocked in the opening stages, Glasgow regained composure to bring the deficit back to single digits shortly into the second quarter. After a 29 point game in the first leg, first-year pro Jordan Johnson hit a three to bring the game to six.

Glasgow won the second 21-17 to make it 46-38 on the night. But despite the Rocks’ fightback, the Riders entered the locker rooms with a 27 point aggregate lead. 

Leicester started the second half how they started the first, getting the action back underway with an 11-4 run. All five Riders starters had made baskets four minutes into the third, as the hosts built on their advantage. 

Crandall continued his scoring streak in the third, scoring nine points in the period. His coast to coast drive with a minute remaining was the highlight of the third, which ended 72-61 in Leicester’s favour. 

With the tie all but sealed, the Riders saw the game out in the fourth. Loughborough’s Evan Walshe checked into the game to log key playoff minutes, while Washington went off for 13 in the period. The sides traded buckets, before the Riders stretched their lead emphatically in the closing minutes to book their place in the final.

“To come out and be aggressive is always my game plan,” commented Washington postgame. “Coming into this game, I didn’t want to hold back. I wanted to play hard defence and find my shot.”

“In the final, we’ll come out and be aggressive, stick to our principles and do what we do. We’ve played them throughout the season and know them really well. It’s going to be a great game to watch, but the main focus for us is to stick to what we’ve been doing.” 

The final will take place at the O2 Arena on Sunday, tipping off at 4:15 PM. The Riders take on the London Lions, hoping to secure the treble. 

Riders thank Marg Jones

Marg Jones, who started the season as Women’s Head Coach for the Riders Charnwood Academy, seamlessly stepped in to lead the Riders WBBL programme after the departure of Derrick Washington. Jones brought her vast coaching experience to the WBBL side and led the team through the regular league season to the 2022 play-off quarter-finals against Nottingham Wildcats.

On her reflection of the 2022 season, Jones said:

‘’I’m very proud of the successes of the Women’s program this season, both from a team and individual athlete perspective. The team finishing 4th in the league, in what proved to be one of the most competitive seasons in WBBL league history, was a huge accomplishment.’’

In what can only be described as a challenging start for Jones due to coming in part way through the season, her positivity and developmental focus towards women’s basketball saw Charnwood Academy and Loughborough University students integrated into the fold and cohesion formed in a top-down club approach.

‘’Like all teams, we faced adversity through Covid and untimely injuries and of course this was compounded by the early season coaching change. The athletes responded to each challenge with positivity and professionalism and should be extremely proud of their accomplishments.’’

‘’I am appreciative of the opportunity to have led the Riders Women’s program this past season and will be working closely with athletes and staff to build a succession plan for the 22-23 season.’’ – Marg Jones

In conjunction with taking the reins of the WBBL side, Jones also stepped in as Head Coach for the Loughborough University’s Women’s BUCS 1st team. The team finished their BUCS campaign in the play-offs semi-final against Essex.

Managing Director Russell Levenston commented “ I’d like to thank Marg for stepping up and taking on a really important role for us this season. Her passion for the game has really helped us move the women’s programme forward and she is leaving our WBBL and University women’s programme in a much better place than she found it. Marg will now work with the team and new coach to lay the foundations for the future. “

The Leicester Riders would like to thank Marg for taking on the WBBL Head Coach role with short notice and stepping up at a time when the programme needed strong coaching leadership. The club would like to recognise the hard work that has gone into the 2021-22 season WBBL campaign and the passion that Jones brings to the WBBL and `Riders Women’s programme. More announcements to follow, about who will take over the reins for the WBBL and Loughborough University team.

Ceejay Hanson commits to Cape Breton

Manchester-born Ceejay Hanson has committed to Canadian school Cape Breton who compete in the Atlantic University Sport division.

Hanson was a key member of Charnwood College’s team that lifted the EABL championship this season, he is all set to join up with the Capers ahead of the 2022/23 season. 

“I’m delighted to have committed to the Capers. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to go and test myself in Canada and I’m excited to take up the challenge”, said Hanson.

“I would like to thank all the Riders staff, coaches and my teammates for an amazing time in the programme. Winning the EABL title was a great way to sign-off.“

Hanson’s announcement follows on from Louie Jordan committing to Weber State and Victor Ndoukou committing to join North Dakota. 

BBL Playoff Preview- Riders vs Rocks

The Riders return to Leicester for the second leg of the BBL Playoff semi-final. They take a 21 point lead to the Morningside Arena following the first leg in Glasgow.

Get your tickets here! 

Playoffs so far- Riders 

The Riders earned the top seed for the postseason in dominant fashion, winning the league title by a franchise-record margin of 16 points. They finished the year with a 25-2 record, earning a first-round matchup against the eighth-seeded Plymouth City Patriots.

Patrick Whelan led them through the first leg with 19 points, as the Riders earned a 15 point advantage with a 86-71 road win. The Patriots fought back in the second leg, taking an aggregate lead in the third quarter. But Zach Jackson scored 10 straight points in response, before Leicester saw out the game to book a spot in the semis. 

The first leg in Glasgow was a back and forth affair for the first half. In the second, the Rocks exploded to a double-digit lead, which lit a spark in the Riders’ offence. Leicester went 59-28 the rest of the way, led by a historic game from Geno Crandall. The reigning MVP put up 32 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and five steals, dominating every aspect of the game. 

Playoffs so far- Rocks

With a 12-15 record through the season good for the seventh seed in the playoffs, the Glasgow Rocks faced the second-placed Sheffield Sharks in the first round. The Rocks won the season series 2-1, matching up well with their opponents.

In the home leg, four Sharks scored over 15 points to leave the Rocks in a seven-point hole. But pre-game news of injuries to the Sharks’ star backcourt pairing, Antwain Johnson and Rodney Glasgow Jr, put the Rocks on the front foot for a comeback. The Rocks took advantage of the Sheffield injuries, beating the Sharks 96-72 to pull off the upset win.

The Rocks were led by first-year pro Jordan Harris in the first leg, who put up a season-high 29 point performance. However, to progress to the Playoff final, Glasgow will need to overcome a deficit from which no need has recovered in BBL Playoff history. 

One to watch- Riders

In the opening leg, Leicester’s star point guard put up a performance for the ages. His index rating of 40 was the highest in a game since 2012 for a Riders’ player, putting the team on his back in a blowout win. 

In his second Riders year, Crandall averaged 13 points and 6.8 assists through the season. His assist tally ranks fourth in the BBL, and his index efficiently third, as he shot 50% from the field and 39% from three. 

Last season, the Gonzaga graduate pulled the strings in the backcourt, averaging a BBL best nine assists in the playoffs. His team-high 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists sealed the league title for the Riders, and he is set to help the team through their playoff push.

Crandall is an elite offensive talent, with his flashy playmaking skills dominating highlight reels. He pushes the tempo quickly in transition to set up teammates for easy buckets, and has active hands defensively averaging  1.8 steals. With his ability to read the passing lane and take the ball from the opposition, he is a fantastic asset to Rob Paternostro’s side on both ends of the floor.

One to watch- Rocks

Despite his team’s loss, Jordan Harris’ 29 points were an impressive showing for the rookie in the opening fixture. The former Georgia Bulldog averaged 7.1 points per game as a senior in college, but improved to 17 points per game after he took the step up to the pros, settling into his new team seamlessly. 

The 6’4” guard gets it done on both ends, finishing top five in the BBL in steals with two per game. Harris’ active hands were on full display in the first leg, as he snatched five steals. He is an efficient scorer, averaging 48% from the field over the season, preferring to get it done at the hoop.

Harris has lit up the BBL this season with his athleticism, serving up posters all year long to become a prominent feature on the BBL’s top 10 plays of the week. His highlight plays date back to college, as his monstrous chase down block features in ESPN’s top 10 plays in his senior season. 

The Rocks will need every bit of production from Harris in this one, as they look to stage a historic comeback. 

Previous meetings

After the first leg win, the Riders are 4-0 against the Rocks this year after sweeping the season series. Each game was won in emphatic fashion, with Leicester taking each game by 15 points. Another win would see them advance to the Playoff final, as they pursue a treble-winning year. 

Riders win first leg blowout!

It is advantage Riders in the BBL playoff semi-final, after they won the first leg 105-84 against the Glasgow Rocks. 

After being named the British Journalists’ Player of the Year in the week, reigning BBL MVP Geno Crandall put on a show for the Riders, putting up an astonishing 32 points, 11 assists seven rebounds and five steals. The Gonzaga graduate’s points tally is his season-high, as he led his team a step closer to the final. 

It was a red hot performance for the league’s best offence, scoring 105 points by shooting 55% from the floor. In the third, where the Riders began to build their lead, they drained six threes, finishing the game making 54%.

The Rocks took a double-digit lead shortly after halftime, but fell victim to a Riders offensive explosion to which they had no answer. Jordan Harris went blow for blow with Crandall in a battle in the backcourt, leading the team with his season-high 29 points.

It was Leicester who got off to the better start. Back to back threes got the Riders on the board, as they jumped out to an 8-2 lead. They carried their early momentum through the first five minutes, led by eight points from Marc Loving, to force a Rocks timeout up 11. 

The Riders exploded on both ends through the first period, which finished 25-17 in Leicester’s favour. They shot 52% through the quarter while holding Glasgow to 33%, flexing their BBL-best offence and defence. 

Glasgow fought back into contention to start the second, tying the game courtesy of eight points from first-year pro Harris. Three Leicester turnovers in as many minutes allowed the hosts to build momentum on the fastbreak, as the Rocks started the quarter 12-4.

The score swung back and forth until the half, which Glasgow’s Jordan Johnson concluded with a three at the buzzer to make it 48-43 to the hosts. Crandall had 15 by halftime, the MVP taking the reigns for the Riders, while Harris put up a monster 20 point first-half performance for Glasgow. 

In the third, it was Glasgow’s turn to hit two threes to start the half, building their lead to double digits. Johnson nailed both, as the former NBA G-League point guard improved his game total to nine. 

The Riders’ response was immediate, as Whelan his team back into the game. The British Journalists’ British Player of the Year scored eight quick points to retake the lead in 90 seconds. Whelan’s play lit a fire under Leicester from deep, as they nailed five threes six minutes into the third quarter. 

Zach Jackson scored nine straight in the latter stages of the third, continuing his hot form from the quarter-final where he accomplished the same feat. the Omaha graduate’s play put the Riders up 77-69 entering the final quarter.

Conner Washington kicked off the fourth with five quick points to stretch the Leicester lead. The 11-year Riders put his team in good stead as they looked to close out the tie. 

Crandall took over the dying stages of the game, scoring seven points in the final five minutes to stretch the lead to 19. The Riders commenced a 9-2 run late in the tie to consolidate their advantage going into the return fixture. Crandall closed the game with a free throw, making it a 22 point game. 

The return leg will take place on Monday, with the game tipping off at 7:45. Should the Riders win over the two legs, they will book their place in the Playoff final at the O2 Arena.

Louie Jordan commits to Weber State

Leicester-born Louie Jordan has committed to division one NCAA school Weber State and will travel to America for the 2022-23 season.

Jordan, who has been a key player throughout the Riders pathway, has played for Charnwood College, Loughborough Riders and Leicester this past season. 

“I’m excited to commit to Weber State. I have always wanted to go and test myself in the NCAA and I’m really grateful to Weber State for the opportunity to fulfil a dream”, said Jordan.

“Winning the EABL title is the perfect way to leave Charnwood College. I owe a big thank you to the whole Rider programme – the staff and coaches who have supported me in my time here.“

Jordan’s announcement follows on from Victor Ndoukou committing to join North Dakota earlier this week. 

Ndoukou commits to North Dakota

EABL Finals MVP Victor Ndoukou has committed to division one NCAA school North Dakota and will start his American college career with the Fighting Hawks next season.

Ndoukou, who came through the Charnwood College programme, played for both Loughborough Riders and Leicester this past season. 

“I’m really happy to commit to North Dakota. I’ve had several conversations with Coach Sather and liked what he had to say about the school and the team,” commented the 6’8” forward.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be playing in America and I’m grateful for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.”

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my coaches and support staff here in the Riders programme for their support.”   

North Dakota, the former school of BBL MVP Geno Crandall, currently play in the Summit league where they face Zach Jackson’s former team Omaha. 

Crandall, Whelan & Paternostro win BJA Awards

For the second straight season, Leicester Riders guard Geno Crandall has scooped the Player of the Year in the Basketball Journalists Association’s annual awards for the 2021-22 season.

Crandall averaged 13.1 points and 6.8 assists a game this season, shooting an efficient 50 percent from the floor during the regular season, as he led the Riders to a league and Cup double.

“It’s an honour to be recognised by the British basketball media that cover the game,” Crandall said.

“To be rewarded for the work that I have put in not just throughout the season but also during the off-season where I made commitments to better myself and my game certainly means a lot.”

Manchester Giants’ Tyrik Armstrong finished second in the voting with Riders’ Patrick Whelan, third.

Along with Crandall, Leicester Riders Rob Paternostro also won back-to-back awards as he claimed his second straight Coach of the Year accolade.

Thanks to Paternostro’s leadership, Leicester secured a 25-2 record for the season, achieving a BBL record-winning margin of 16 points between them and second placed Sheffield Sharks.

“It’s been wonderful to work with our team this season,” Paternostro said.

“Their talent, togetherness and commitment has been on display since we came together in August.

“It’s been fun to come to work each day, working with the players and staff that we have assembled here. It’s been awesome.”

Lloyd Gardner, who led Manchester Giants to their first final in 21 years and a first playoff spot since 2014 was second in the voting with Sharks coach Atiba Lyons in third.

Completing a hat-trick of awards for the Riders is Patrick Whelan, as he wins the Pete Jacques Award for Best British Player in the BBL.

One of the leading shooters this season, Whelan shot 47.9 percent from three-point range and 54.2 percent from the field, overall, averaging 15.3 points per game.

“From such a strong pool of British players in this league, I’m extremely blessed and grateful to even be considered for this award, let alone win it,” Whelan said.

Manchester Giants’ Dan Clark was second in the voting with Cheshire Phoenix’s Teddy Okereafor in third.

Karlie Samuelson of Spanish side Perfumerias Avenida won this season’s Syd Lipski International Award for top British performer on the global stage.

The Great Britain international reached the EuroLeague Women Final Four for a second straight season and secured a bronze medal in the process.

Samuelson averaged 7.3 points as well as shooting 48 percent from three-point range in Europe’s premier competition with season-high performances of 17 points on two occasions in the regular season.

Temi Fagbenle, who reached the EuroCup Women semi-finals with CBK Mersin, was second in the voting with Myles Hesson of Japanese league side, Saga Ballooners, third.


Sunday’s action saw the Riders take on the Nottingham Wildcats in the first round of the WBBL Playoffs in a win or go home thriller. Both teams fought valiantly and it was the Wildcats who prevailed 81-69. The Riders showed tremendous effort throughout. 

Both Oceana Hamilton and Hannah Robb had 19 points. They were a two headed monster for this Riders team as Hamilton owned the paint on both ends and Robb, who poured in jump shot after jump shot. 

From the start, Nottingham came out hot behind a flurry of long range shots and smothering defense. Nottingham continued throughout the first half on this pace, though the Rider’s defense held the Wildcats to 17 second quarter points in comparison to the first quarters’ 27. 

As the Riders headed to the locker room for half time they trailed 44-28. With their season on the line, the Riders came back out as a team on a mission. They won the third quarter 25-11 to bring the lead to 53-55. For a team that trailed by 19 at one point, their ability to rally and re-enter this game was the antithesis of the heart this team plays with. 

Nottingham was able to rally in the fourth and beat the Riders 81-69. Though their season is over it was far from a failure. When asked about the season head coach Marg Jones said this…

“The league has demonstrated a tremendous amount of parity this season and for our young team to finish top 4 in the standings is a testament to the determination, perseverance and hard work of the players” 

Even though the outcome was not what they had wished for there are no heads down in the Rider’s locker room. They are proud of the basketball they played and played down to the last buzzer. 

Personally, I’ve followed this team for a while and they played this season with passion. Their unselfish identity, defensive versatility and intensity accompanied by a never give up mindset. The Riders had a fantastic season and I can’t wait to see them come back with the same heart next season. 

Congratulations to the Nottingham Wildcats for advancing to the next round of the playoffs, and congratulations to the Riders who played a fantastic season. 

Match report written by Rob Field.

BBL Playoff Preview- Riders at Rocks

The Riders will face the seventh-seeded Glasgow Rocks in the semi-finals of the BBL Playoffs! The first leg will be played on the road, on Saturday 7 May at 2 pm. The teams return to the Morningside Arena for the return fixture on Monday 9 May, tipping off at 7:30 pm.

Get your tickets for the home leg here!

Playoffs so far- Riders

The Riders earned the top seed for the postseason in dominant fashion, winning the league title by a franchise-record margin of 16 points. They finished the year with a 25-2 record, earning a first-round matchup against the eighth-seeded Plymouth City Patriots. 

After a slow start to the first leg, the Riders had control of the tie by the third quarter. They took a 15 point advantage into the return fixture, led by a 19 point performance from GB sniper Patrick Whelan. 

In the second leg, hosted at the Morningside Arena, the Patriots fought back, eventually taking the aggregate lead midway through the third. But Omaha graduate Zach Jackson responded with 10 points unanswered, snatching back momentum that the Riders carried to the finish. 

“Geno going out brought us together in the third. It really motivated us. I was ready to go,” said Jackson postgame. 

“We’ve got to be ready to play, it’s the playoffs. Plymouth was the eighth seed and gave us a tough run. We’ve got to be ready in the next round.” 

Playoffs so far- Rocks

With a 12-15 record through the season good for the seventh seed in the playoffs, the Glasgow Rocks faced the second-placed Sheffield Sharks in the first round. The Rocks won the season series 2-1, matching up well with their opponents.

In the home leg, four Sharks scored over 15 points to leave the Rocks in a seven-point hole. Glasgow’s player/coach Gareth Murray scored 20 to keep them in the tie heading to Sheffield, but their 3-11 away form through the season left them as heavy underdogs against the two-seed. 

But pre-game news of injuries to the Sharks’ star backcourt pairing, Antwain Johnson and Rodney Glasgow Jr, put the Rocks on the front foot for a comeback. The Rocks took advantage of the Sheffield injuries, beating the Sharks 96-72 to pull off the upset win. 

One round away from the playoff final, the Rocks will hope for another underdog win to progress to the O2. 

One to watch- Riders

Warrington born Patrick Whelan led the Riders through the first round of the playoffs, averaging 18 points over the two legs, good for tenth in the BBL. He went 5-11 from three, and 11-11 from the free-throw line, an efficient showing in his first BBL playoff action. 

Whelan was the BBL’s second-best three-point shooter this season, hitting 48% of his deep shots. His 15 points per game led the Riders, and he has carried his form into the postseason. 

Whelan’s bucket getting capabilities, combined with his elite defence on the other end, make him a formidable opponent for opposing teams. With seven 20 point performances on the year, the William Jewell graduate is capable of big games to lead Leicester to wins. 

One to watch- Rocks

After leading the Rocks through the season with 18.4 points per game, Jordan Johnson put up big numbers against the Sharks to help Glasgow to the semi-final. Johnson scored 17.5 points over the two legs, with an 18 point performance in the second leg seeing his side through. 

His scoring ranked top five in the BBL this season, and he made waves with his playmaking ability too. The UNLV graduate dished 8.4 assists per game, the 13th most in a single season in league history. 

The former G-Leaguer, who played his first pro season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, is a dual-threat point guard, able to score and set up his teammates at an elite level. Slowing down Johnson would go a long way to helping the Riders through to the playoff final. 

Previous meetings 

The Riders swept the season series against the Rocks, winning all three games in the season. Leicester won the games by an average margin of 24 points, blowing out their opponents in all three meetings. 

Their previous game was the second-last fixture of the Riders’ season, a 101-86 victory in Glasgow. Mo Walker led the team down low, scoring 17, while Jordan Harris led the game with 19 for the Rocks. 

Riders through to the Playoff semi-finals!

The Riders booked their place in the BBL Playoff semi-finals, beating the Plymouth City Patriots over two legs. A 88-87 win in the second leg built on the 15 point advantage they’d built in the first, a solid showing over 80 minutes. 

Zach Jackson led the team with 18 points, the Kansas born wing scored 12 in the third quarter after Plymouth took an aggregate lead. Jackson was backed up by 17 from Patrick Whelan and 14 from Geno Crandall, a team showing sealing a hard-fought win. 

Leicester got their offence going at the line, driving to the rim to shoot 33 foul shots. They made 88%, and drained 38% of their threes to see them past the Patriots. The win makes it 7-0 in the season series and improves the Riders’ win streak against Plymouth to 38, a run dating back to 2012. 

Plymouth had two 20 point performers in the game, with Antonio Williams and Rowell Graham-Bell scoring 25 and 24 respectively. The visitors had a solid scoring night, shooting 51% from the floor, but ultimately fell short against the league champions. 

As they did in the first leg, the Patriots got off to the better start, jumping out to a 14-2 lead in the opening minutes. Their big man tandem of Graham-Bell and Rashad Hassan scored eight points between them on the run, forcing an early Riders comeback. 

Whelan kick-started the Riders’ response, scoring five quick points including a tough and-one finish. 

On the defensive end, a chase-down block by Marc Loving denied Patriots’ sniper Josh Hart at the rim, before a strong finish from Mo Walker inside brought the game to within a score. Walker led the Riders through the first with seven points off the bench. 

After falling in an early hole, Leicester came back with a 24-12 run in the rest of the quarter. The first ended with the Riders up 109-87 on aggregate. 

The Riders exploded for seven quick points to start the second, taking their first lead of the game. Their BBL-best defence locked in, holding the Patriots scoreless through the first four minutes. Whelan added seven more points to his game tally, as Leicester grew their lead.

Plymouth made a nine-point run to end the half, taking a 45-42 lead into the locker rooms. A ten-point quarter from Crandall meant he led the Riders with 12 points by the half.

The Patriots came out of halftime strong, scoring eight quick points. Graham-Bell built on the Plymouth momentum to score seven straight, as Plymouth took the aggregate lead. Crandall picked up his fifth foul, sidelining him for the remainder of the game. 

Jackson responded, driving to the lane on four straight possessions for eight points. The Omaha graduate took the game by the reigns, snatching back the lead with 10 points unanswered. 

Riding the wave of momentum, Leicester’s 17-2 run tied the game in a raucous Morningside Arena. Jackson’s free throws made it 63-63 entering the fourth. 

Conner Washington took over the scoring load to start the final quarter, scoring six points to stretch the lead. The sides traded buckets in the fourth, as the Riders kept their opponents at arm’s length. 

With two minutes on the clock, Jackson drained a three to take the roof off the arena. Washington drained four free throws down the stretch, sealing the win for Leicester. 

“Geno going out brought us together in the third. It really motivated us. I was ready to go,” said Jackson postgame. 

“We’ve got to be ready to play, it’s the playoffs. Plymouth was the eighth seed and gave us a tough run. We’ve got to be ready in the next round.” 

The Riders will head to Glasgow for their next game, the first of two legs against the Rocks. A win in the game would set the Riders up to progress through the semi-finals, as they go for the treble on the season.