THE North-West Thunder hopes it has found a ready made replacement for absent star Shawntes Gary following the signing of Troy Payne from California.
The 24-year-old comes to Tasmania highly recommended having been involved with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers this year.
Payne will arrive in Tasmania in February in time for the start of the SEABL season and is looking forward to his latest basketball challenge.
"I'm excited about coming to play SEABL and looking forward to joining the Thunder team and getting involved in the community."
Payne will take the place of Shawntes Gary who has played for the Thunder for the past three years.
The Thunder went on the search for another import after Gary told the club he wouldn't be returning in 2013 and Payne's reputation as a hard working defensive player caught its attention.
Payne graduated from Santa Clara University in California where he played in the NCAA division one team and in his senior year he was awarded the conference defensive Player of the Year award.
Since graduating from Santa Clara he was drafted into the NBA's D League and has been working as an intern with the Cavaliers' basketball operations department.
Thunder is looking forward to Payne working in close tandem with co-import Eric Gaff who is returning from Indiana for a third year.
Following the re- appointment of head coach Phil Thomas and the assistant coaching panel of Ben Armstrong and Michael Rowlands the Thunder will continue to finalise its playing roster for next year.
After two disappointing seasons the club has its sights set on a play-off position with the expected return of former Sydney Kings forward Blagoj Janev and the re-appearance of Sam Harris following a long injury lay-off.
Blagoj and Harris both had an injury-interrupted 2012 season.