Riders react: USA Select

The Riders took the win in their final pre-season game, beating USA Select 105-62 in their return to the Morningside Arena Leicester.

Here’s what the team had to say after the game.

Rob Paternostro 

“I loved the way we jumped on them early. We moved the ball well, defensively, we were in gaps, and we had a huge lead. Once we were up big, the game was played a little differently.

“Our conditioning needs to get better. because I thought at the end we were a little gassed. But all in all, we were good.”

Coach Rob was cautious with Xavier Pinson to start pre-season as he recovered from an injury sustained in the CEBL over the summer, but he made his return to the court last night.

“I liked Xavier out there. He’s a natural point guard and he’s so slick with his dribble. His head is always up because he’s such a good ball-handler who doesn’t need to look at the ball. He can get in gaps and make plays, and tonight he did that.”

“The injuries hurt us at the start of pre-season. Losing Xavier and Caleb hurt us because we haven’t got a good look at who we are with a full roster.

“But overall, I like our depth. It’s been great having Mo and Conner back out there, and I also thought Blake has been great this pre-season. He’s been playing consistently well. We’ve got a lot of good guys, and come Friday, we’ll be able to utilise them.

“We’re happy to be home, and we’re looking forward to having a good crowd for our season opener. It’s always exciting on opening night.”

Blake Bowman

Young star Blake Bowman has impressed in his second Riders pre-season, scoring in double-digits in every game.

“I’m feeling great. It’s a good opportunity to get out there and put on a show for the fans. I’ve been working on the three-point shot, and my dribble pull-up to add some range to my game.”

“As long as Coach Rob trusts me, I’m going to be out on the floor. I just need to make winning plays to force him to keep me out there.”

Bowman was perfect from the field in the game, going 7-7 and 1-1 from three.

Xavier Pinson

Upon his return to court, Xavier Pinson impressed. He had 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in 19 minutes of action.

“It was great to be out there with my teammates. I thought we controlled the pace better than we had throughout the pre-season, and we were sharper as a team. For the most part, I was just happy to be on the court.

“I know the level of competition is set to increase, but after the game, I feel like I’m in great shape. I’m ready to show the fans what we can do.

“I feel like we learned a lot about each other, and what Coach Rob wants from us as a team. It’s a great starting point for us to build going towards the season.”

Miryne Thomas

Miryne Thomas once again showed his scoring ability against USA Select, leading the Riders with 19 points and seven rebounds despite only playing 19 minutes.

After picking up fouls battling inside, Thomas says his biggest focus is staying on the court.

“The biggest thing for me is to play without fouling. I got into foul trouble tonight, so I couldn’t play for long stretches.

“I’m in good shape and feel like I can play hard for 40 minutes, so I want to be in a position where I can play big minutes.”

In his first game in front of the Riders’ home crowd, Thomas fed off the energy.

“I loved the energy here at the Morningside Arena. I liked how the fans reacted to everything we did out there, and after the game, they stayed to give us love.”

Sam Idowu 

Also making a return to action this pre-season was American/British big Sam Idowu, who sat out the previous season.

“I had a lot of fun tonight, and it was great to meet all the fans. It’s nice being on the court again because it’s been a long year and some change sitting out.”

“I feel good. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in a long time. The preparation going into the season has been good, and I’ve played consistent minutes.

“Now I’m impatiently waiting for the season to start. I can’t wait to get going!”

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our season opener against the Cheshire Phoenix!

Keita joins Loughborough basketball

Loughborough basketball is excited to welcome 6’10” forward Sam Keita for the 2023/24 season. 

The 23-year-old played in the BBL for the Plymouth City Patriots last season, playing seven minutes per game and featuring on 34 occasions. 

Kieta spent his final college season in the NCAA D1, playing for North Carolina Central. 

He will accompany his play in the NBL D1 with his studies in Sustainable Engineering at the University. 

Kieta commented: “I’m excited to get on board with the programme. I can’t wait to get the ball rolling, and succeed on and off the court.” 

Head Coach Will Maynard added: “Sam is a big body for us and definitely adds to our front line. He has had plenty of experiences that will help him at the D1 level. 

“He adds both a scoring threat inside and good rim protection, so he will certainly help us on both ends of the floor. We are excited to have him over the next couple of years and are looking forward to seeing him contribute to the team both in BUCS and D1.”

From Riders with Love!

Leicester Riders are thrilled to have agreed terms with American point guard Carrington Love.

The 29-year-old averaged 16.6 points and 5.8 assists last season in the German division two, playing for Eisbären Bremerhaven. He shot 47.4% from the field and 36.1% from three, finishing the year with a 16-13 record.

Love is a Green Bay graduate, having spent four years with the Phoenix between 2012 and 2016. He showed improvement every year, scoring a team-high 17.3 points per game as a senior. 

In his senior year, he ranked third in NCAA in steals with 2.57 per game, setting a programme record with 95 steals in a season. 

Since then, Love has taken his talents to Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium before landing in Leicester. He also has experience on the European stage, putting up 10 points per game in the Europe Cup for Donar Groningen in 2019. 

Love’s ties to Leicester makes him a seamless fit to the roster.

“I’m excited to join the Riders! I’ve only heard great things about the city, the coach, the players and the club!” commented Love.

“Knowing Jubril and Darien prior to my arrival has already made me comfortable with the team, and it’s a major plus having former Rider Justin Hedley and my godson Will nearby!

“I’m just excited to get on the floor with the guys and try to win as many games as possible!”

The Milwaukee native is a confident three-point shooter, able to knock down deep shots off the dribble, and with a defender in his face. He can take defenders off the dribble to attack the hoop, where he finds open teammates effectively or finish himself. 

“We’re excited to get a player like Carrington at this stage of the season,” said head coach Rob Paternostro.

“He is a multi-year European professional, who has played very well throughout his career

“Carrington is a player who can play both guard positions, and has shown the ability to score and play make from many different spots on the floor.”

Love has signed for the remainder of the season. Riders can confirm we have been granted special dispensation from the league, following the injury to Devonte Bandoo, to enable Love to suit up for Sunday’s BBL Cup Final!

Welcome to Leicester Carrington! 

Ndoukou signs first pro contract

Leicester Riders are delighted to have signed young British talent Victor Ndoukou on his first professional contract.

The young forward has signed a 4 and a half year deal which will see him as part of the BBL team through to the end of the 2026-27 season. Ndoukou will also be studying a Loughborough University on a scholarship through the Loughborough College Elite pathway with the Riders, and will be eligible to suit-up for the D1 roster and BBL.

“We really enjoyed working with Victor while he was at Charnwood College over the last few seasons,” commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro.

“He is a player with good size and skill who has a lot of potential.” 

“The partnership with Loughborough University and Loughborough College has been invaluable and very influential in developing our young British players over the years .”

Ndoukou will be a familiar face to Riders fans as he first joined our pathway in 2019.

“I feel grateful to be given the opportunity to play for the Riders,” reflected Ndoukou. “I am very thankful for the opportunity the Riders pathway gave me and for the support from Loughborough University & Loughborough College. I really can’t wait to get my professional career started.”

The 19-year-old is a 6’7″ athletic wing, who averaged 15.5 points per game for Charnwood College in the 2021/22 season. He is widely regarded as the best British talent of his age, winning the MVP award in the EABL final last year.