The Halifax Rainmen dropped a bombshell on Friday by signing the Premier Basketball League’s leading scorer and No. 2 rebounder.
The Rainmen inked 6-foot-9 forward A.J. Millien, who had been released a day earlier by the Augusta Groove. Millien was averaging a whopping 30.9 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks through nine games.
Millien gives the Rainmen a more than adequate replacement for Rob Sanders, who was averaging 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds before signing with a team in Venezuela this week.
“I’ve got teams already calling me asking me, ‘How did you do that?'” Rainmen owner Andre Levingston said proudly.
More to the point, how does an MVP candidate get released by the Groove?
“We were just going in different direction,” said Groove owner Gary Perry. “A.J.’s a great player, but we wanted to do a little something different, that’s all.
“Basically we’re going to slow the tempo down a little bit. A.J.’s all-out, fast-paced, and I didn’t think that would work for him, and I didn’t want to hinder him in any way. It wasn’t a good fit.”
Perry said there were no off-court issues with Millien and that Millien’s release wasn’t a payroll issue. He did say Halifax fans should be excited.
“He’ll fill the stands up,” Perry said. “He’s a high-flying player.”
Levingston said the Groove initially called him inquiring about a trade, but he wasn’t interested in surrendering anybody off his roster. But when Millien was released, he jumped on it.
“His agent called and said, ‘Would you be interested?’ I said, ‘Who wouldn’t be interested?'” Levingston explained.
Millien played two seasons of NCAA Division 1 ball at Idaho State, finishing with 15.5 points per game and 6.6 rebounds in 2005-06. He also finished top 10 in the nation with 3.6 blocks per game. He has since bounced around a variety of minor leagues before landing this fall with Augusta.
He won’t play Friday against the Detroit Panthers at 7 p.m., but he will be in the lineup Sunday when the Rainmen host the Quebec Kebs at 2 p.m.
“He’s going to cause all kinds of problems for teams,” Levingston said. “He’s 6-foot-9, he’s long, and he can play on the perimeter, but he has (Eric) Crookshank-type athleticism. He’s going to be a very exciting player who can shoot the three and get to the basket.”