No.1 draft pick JaJuan Johnson will be joined by a wealth of newcomers and supplemented this weekend by Indiana Pacers assignees Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson.
The Ants play the Erie BayHawks at 7:30 tonight in Memorial Coliseum.
“I think we've got a lot of pieces here,” new coach Duane Ticknor said. “I don't know if the final drawing is on the board. We've got a good core, a good solid nucleus of guys who can win at this level. We have some veterans and some good, young, energetic guys.”
Russell will play a major role early, as he can use his experience as a five-year D-League veteran and his time last season with the Detroit Pistons.
“Having a point guard who is not only a veteran but a quality veteran is probably the head of the dragon of any team on any level,” Ticknor said. “From a coaching standpoint, his value is unlimited.”
Russell hopes to earn another NBA shot, but is committed to doing his best to push the Ants to a fast start.
“I'm excited,” Russell said. “I think for the first time we're a lot more athletic in places we weren't in previous years. Tick does a good job giving guys all the confidence in the world at the offensive end. A lot of it is on me and Ron (Howard) and even Mike (Anderson) likes to get out and run.”
Howard, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, also says the foundation is there for a much better start to this season.
“There is a lot of energy and it's a deep team,” Howard said. “I think we have a real shot to be good if we continue to get better every day and work hard at gelling as a team.”