Manchester Giants have returned their local core of North West talent as Jack Hudson, David Ulph, and Jordan Whelan have all agreed contract extensions for the 2021-22 British Basketball League (BBL) campaign.
All three made strong contributions last season, starting a combined 54 games, playing a total of over 2400 minutes, and combing for 31 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists for the team per outing. That chemistry was evident as the group of local stars go way back, with Hudson and Whelan having played alongside each other for North West teams as juniors; while Hudson and Ulph have played on the same teams progressing through the divisions in the last five years for both Liverpool Basketball Club and Lancashire Spinners.
“There is a toughness about Hudson that I have always liked and I wanted to sign the guys from last year," said Giants owner Jamie Edwards. "Jack has a very good understanding of the game. I think the system, the role he is being asked to play now will suit him even more."
Hudson joined Giants in December 2019, and the 6'2" 27-year-old averaged 5 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds per game from the point guard position last year.
He has suffered three separate injuries since stepping up to the BBL - side-lined for two months with a knee injury, followed by a concussion and an ankle problem - but finished the season with a run of strong performances upon returning from the last of those. That included his best top flight showing of 15 points, eight assists, and five rebounds in a road win at Glasgow, as he averaged nine points and six assists over the last four games.
“I am super excited to be back at Manchester for the upcoming season and especially excited to play in front of our fans at the Performance Centre," said Hudson.
"I felt as though we had a lot of potential on the floor last season; I’m hoping that we can fulfil it this year. Our fans deserve success and I truly believe that the club is putting everything in place to make it happen."
After joining the club at the same time, David Ulph had a breakout season in 2020-21 which culminated in him being nominated to the Molten BBL All-British Team of the Year, while also receiving an accolade as the club's Fans' Player of the Season.
The 6'7" 28-year-old averaged 11 points on 65% shooting along with 9.2 rebounds per game in league play, with the outstanding achievement of leading the entire BBL in both of the latter two categories. His field goal percentage was a single-season record for the Giants, while his rebounding total and seven double-doubles were also in the top ten.
“We have resigned a quality individual and a player who in making the GB team of the year summed up the contribution he made," added Jamie Edwards. "It’s not easy making that team at any position, let alone as a big man.”
"The challenge for us in all positions is to keep improving. This type of year has to be a foundation for the player. It’s a sign of potential. The realisation of the potential is doing it again."
Ulph said that there was 'nowhere else' he wanted to play this season than Manchester Giants and was excited about the club's direction.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to return to Manchester Giants and after speaking with coach and Jamie, there was nowhere else I wanted to play," said Ulph. "I’m excited about the direction the club is going in and more than anything, I can't wait for our fans to return, whilst being a part of the family that drives basketball forward in the city of Manchester.”
Warrington-native Jordan Whelan had his best BBL season to date, having returned to the club last summer from stints with Worcester Wolves and London Lions.
The 6'4" 27-year-old finished the campaign as the team's leading scorer, pouring in more than 500 points in all competitions at an average of over 15 per game, winning the nomination as Players' Player of the Season from his teammates. Whelan was a match-winner on numerous occasions with eight games in which he scored over 20 points, including a BBL career-high of 30 on the road at Leicester Riders, and the decisive late 'and-one' play among his 19 points that won a BBL Cup quarter-final against Surrey Scorchers.
“The re-signing of Jordan makes us more competitive in the guard spot," reflected Jamie Edwards. "It adds to the core British players. At his best Jordan keeps the defence guessing with a game that can find the basket off the dribble or switch to a mid range game.
“It’s a new era at the club and delighted Jordan is with us for another season as he has a desire to see the Giants meet that potential on and off the court.”
Jordan Whelan added, ''I’m excited to be back again putting the jersey on for my city, family & friends. Last year was just a start and through the ups and downs, we left a lot more to accomplish this season. Fans will be back to feel the energy and witness what basketball can be in Manchester, can’t wait to get back in the gym with the team and get to business.''
Whelan, Ulph and Hudson all join GB Internationals Josh Steel and Jamell Anderson as players announced thus far for Giants' 2021-22 season.