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Loughborough announce retained core ahead of 2023/24

Loughborough Basketball’s core of young talent will return for the 2023/24 NBL Division One season. 

The returners are: 

  • Elijah Bailey
  • Justin Hedley
  • CJ Hayden 
  • Joe Bielak
  • Milo Gordon 
  • Ben Woog
  • David Oputa

American guard Bailey joined the Riders last summer on a two-year deal, playing with the Riders while studying his MSc in International Business at Loughborough University.

He averaged 20 points per game last season on a red-hot 44% from three-point range. He joined the team following experience playing professionally in Armenia, Iceland and Maldives.

German-born Hedley continues his NBL D1 career while studying Biological Science. The 6’4” guard’s previous playing experience includes his time with the Leicester Riders British Basketball League team.

Last season, Hedley put up 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game in Division 1.

Hayden studies Sports Coaching at the University while playing in the NBL D1. The 6’7”, British forward has played for Loughborough Basketball over the last three seasons and won the BUCS title with the team last year. 

British wing Bielak will continue his BsC in Exercise Science at Loughborough University alongside his playing career in Division 1 and BUCS 1st team. Bielak was also a feature on Loughborough’s BUCS winning team, the sharpshooter also averaging 12 points in the NBL D1 last season. 

6’5 Brit Gordon continues his Sport and Exercise Science studies at Loughborough alongside his NBL Division 1 and BUCS 1st team playing commitments. Gordon enters his third season with Loughborough, after averaging 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds a game last year and winning the BUCS title. 

Woog, a Charnwood College alumni, joined Loughborough’s NBL Division One side last season. The British 6’8 forward was part of the Riders BUCS title-winning team last season and has international experience for the Wales Senior Men’s programme. 

Oputa returns to the Loughborough first team after a season playing for the D3 team. The 6’6” forward joined the Loughborough Basketball programme in 2019. 

All of the returners will play in both the NBL and BUCS teams this season.  

Head Coach Will Maynard commented: “To have so many players returning is great for the team. Hopefully, this continuity helps us as we move into next season, and we are able to hit the ground running as soon as pre-season starts. 

“We know how tough of a task it can be with so many games through the season and on top of that your studying, so having guys who are used to that will definitely help throughout this long season. 

“We have a great variety of players within the group which gives us a strong start when looking into the season, we have a great group of unselfish players who want to help the team win and willing to do whatever they need to do for the team to be successful. 

“A lot of the returners are in their last year of study and last year with the programme so hoping to make it a season to remember for those guys.”