Basketball: Sheffield Sharks allow Payne to leave and re-sign Mike Cook

Mike Cook during his last spell with the Sharks. Pic: Ian Anderson.
Mike Cook during his last spell with the Sharks. Pic: Ian Anderson.
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Sheffield Sharks have shaken up their squad by bringing back former BBL Player of the Year Mike Cook and allowing Allen Payne to leave the club.

Cook, who can play as a shooting guard or small forward, was a revelation in his one season with the Sharks in 2009-10 as he scooped the league’s top individual prize as well as leading Sheffield to BBL Cup victory over Chester Jets at the NIA in Birmingham.

The American also averaged 25.9 points per game and was, at times, a class apart from the rest of the league.

However, injuries have disrupted his career since then and after playing in Qatar for Al Ahli Sports Club during the 2012/13 season he moved to Iceland for a spell with Thor Thorl last year.

The Sharks are confident he will be fit enough for the rigours of the British league and expect him to form a potent backcourt partnership with BJ Holmes.

Cook may also be available for Friday’s match at the EIS against Cheshire Phoenix.

Payne began well with the Sharks but couldn’t force his way into coach Atiba Lyons’ starting five.

And with the team mired in mid-table, and on the back of an embarrassing loss to Yorkshire rivals Leeds Force last Friday, the club’s management decided a change was needed.

Payne averaged 12.6 points per game with the Sharks.

A Sharks statement said: “Following recent results of the Sheffield Sharks the club would like to announce their decision to release American Allen Payne with immediate effect.

“The decision was taken after much consideration and was not an easy conclusion, however in the interest of making necessary adjustments to the performance of the team a change was required.

“Payne joined the club in his first season as a professional following his graduation from Div 1 college Auburn University and enjoyed relative success as a rookie player. The club would like to extend their appreciation to Allen for his professionalism and commitment to the team and for his efforts towards winning games.”

Coach Lyons said: “I am in the unusual position of releasing a really good player and a great guy, unfortunately a change was required for the overall benefit of the team and Allen’s role was the most vulnerable. I wish him all the very best in getting a good situation and he leaves us with our support and best wishes.”

Speaking of Cook, Lyons said: “We are pretty keen to make a change which provides certain reasonable expectations.

“With Mike we know he is a serious offensive threat most nights of the week and his formidable reputation was sustained at all his teams since the Sharks.

“Obviously he needs time to settle in and reacquaint himself with our system and of course the team which is largely different to his last time here.”