Story by Thomas Becker
CHARLOTTETOWN - The Island Storm has inked its first-ever multiyear contract with the signing of former Michigan State Spartans captain Russell Byrd.
There’s not a shot the 26-year-old doesn’t like. In 2017-18, Byrd launched 170 three-point attempts, which placed him 18th in the NBL.
“Shooters shoot, doesn’t matter from where,” he said with confidence.
Entering his third year in the league, Byrd is poised for another solid campaign. He was a key contributor with the Moncton Magic in the 2016-17 NBL season, averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
This past season Byrd spent time with the KW Titans before a mid-season trade that sent him to the St. John’s Edge.
The Storm is excited to welcome the well-known sharpshooter.
“We’re very pleased to add Russell to our lineup and ecstatic that we have him for two years,” said head coach Tim Kendrick. “He’s a very good all-around player who can really shoot the ball.”
Shooting touch aside, Byrd’s six-foot-seven frame and ability to guard all five positions was also a big attraction for Kendrick.
“He brings great size and has a championship pedigree after playing for perennial power Michigan State for three years. He’ll be a great fit to the culture we’re trying to build.”
As a Spartan from 2010-14, Byrd had the unique opportunity to play under legendary coach and 2000 NCAA national champion, Tom Izzo. Izzo always believed in Byrd’s ability, despite watching his young guard suffer from various foot injuries that hindered his college career.
“It was a privilege and I learned more than I ever expected to,” Byrd said. “I had a rough career there with injury, but wouldn’t change it for the world. He’s prepared me for this stage of my career and life.”
Now with his new two-year deal etched on paper, the stage is set for Byrd to show fans what he’s truly capable of.
“With the pieces we have and are looking to add, I believe it will put me in a position to best help the team win games.”
And if all goes as planned, he’s hoping the island faithful will welcome him and his family for years to come.
“They showed a genuine interest in me and my family and a desire for us to be here. I have a wife and two kids who are looking forward to being a part of this community.”