Darius Defoe delivers the slam dunk of experience, leadership and proven success that can drive a bold new era for Newcastle basketball.
That’s the verdict of play-caller Marc Steutel after the Eagles’ head coach secured one of his top summer targets.
Defoe will suit up for the men in black for a record 19th successive season after the league’s most successful player inked a new deal with Newcastle.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” said a delighted Steutel. “Amazingly, after all this time, Darius is still one of the most underrated players in the BBL but I don’t know why.
“He is still as motivated as ever and wants to be an integral part of what we’re trying to build here in terms of the next phase for the club and its new direction.
“From my point of view it was absolutely critical that we retained Darius’s services and it’s a hugely positive move.
“He is someone I’ve known and admired for a number of years and I’m relishing the opportunity to work with him on a daily basis.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Darius make a major impact this season on and off the court as a player and as a leader.”
Defoe has won every honour in the BBL many times over and holds the record as the league’s most decorated star with a sensational 27 trophies to his name.
The 37-year-old is a one club man who was recognised for his years of service to the North East when he was awarded Sport Newcastle’s top honour in 2021, and Steutel sees Defoe as the glue that will hold together a new-look roster bidding to get the Eagles back where they belong.
“Darius has an extremely high basketball IQ and he has never stopped learning,” added Newcastle’s head coach.
“He continues to evolve as a player and he’s working hard every day this summer to ensure he starts the season all guns blazing.
“I’m building an exciting team with different players at different stages of their careers but the one constant is Darius.
“He will relish the challenge of bringing this roster together and making sure that every player understands his role and knows what needs to be done on court.
“Darius brings professionalism and experience to the team that’s so difficult to find and I’m delighted he will be an Eagle again.”
Defoe made 27 league appearances last season, averaging nine points, three rebounds and two assists per game, and such is his consistency and quality, the fan favourite has only dipped below 25 Championship appearances once in his 18 seasons on Tyneside.
“Newcastle is my home and this club is where I belong,” said Defoe. “This is a critical period in the history of the Eagles and I am more motivated than ever to play my part in the next chapter of an incredible story.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings under coach Steutel and I’m confident we’ll achieve great things together.
“Right now I’m focusing on getting into shape for pre-season and ensuring I set the right example for the new guys coming in.”
Newcastle Eagles 2022-23 BBL season tickets are still available on the box office where the opening home game at the end of September is selling fast.