Adelaide coach Ninnis starts pitch to star Humphries

Steve LarkinAAP
Scott Ninnis will soon be announced as full-time coach of the Adelaide 36ers. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconScott Ninnis will soon be announced as full-time coach of the Adelaide 36ers. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Freshly appointed Adelaide 36ers coach Scott Ninnis has already opened negotiations with Isaac Humphries, saying re-signing the star centre is his top priority.

Ninnis, who stepped in as caretaker coach when CJ Bruton was sacked on December 5, will be the 36ers' permanent coach for the next two NBL seasons.

The 58-year-old takes command of a roster with just four players - Dejan Vasiljevic, Sunday Dech, Jason Cadee and Nick Marshall - under contract.

"The hard work starts now," Ninnis told reporters on Thursday.

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"The next stage for me is to sit down with players individually and have our exit meetings and just find out where everybody's heads are at."

Ninnis has already been in contact with Humphries as the 26-year-old linchpin contemplates his future.

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"I messaged him last night," Ninnis said.

"To me, and I have said it consistently throughout the year, I feel he's the best big man in the competition.

"For him not to make a first or second All Star five, I think is disgraceful. People are obviously watching different basketball to what I watch.

"He is priority number one.

"He knows the regard that I hold him in, he knows that I make him an absolute focus for what we do on the court.

"So we will just work through the financial side of things now and hopefully make it happen."

Adelaide icon Ninnis led Adelaide to an 8-7 win-loss record as caretaker as the 36ers fell one win and percentage short of a Finals berth.

But 36ers chairman Grant Kelley said those results were "remarkable, it was almost a fairy tale".

"It was clear to everybody that he (Ninnis) had won over the locker room," Kelley told reporters.

"The locker room was not a happy place to be in the first week of December of last year, it was no easy task.

"That group ... required absolute rebuilding and a restoration of trust."

Ninnis, who was an assistant under Bruton, said coaches and players in December were "mentally shot to pieces".

"It did take a period of time before we were able to really make significant change because everyone was pretty mentally fried at that stage," he said.

Ninnis was also the 36ers' head coach between 2008 and 2010 and has been involved in all four of Adelaide's NBL titles, either as a player or assistant coach to Phil Smyth.

He was appointed coach after the 36ers sounded out experienced coaching stalwarts Trevor Gleeson, who has accepted an NBA role as assistant coach at the Milwaukee Bucks, and Brian Goorjian, who pulled out of the process noting the Adelaide fan-base sentiment for Ninnis.

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