BRADFORD Dragons power forward Ricky Fetske says the future is bright at the city’s premier basketball club.

The American is settled in West Yorkshire, and has been for nearly a decade, and takes a lot of pride in helping the next generation of basketballers come through.

The Dragons will go again in September, after last season’s Covid disrupted campaign ended with defeat in the play-off second round to Hemel Storm.

But Fetske said: “It was a fun year, in the sense that a couple of talented young players like Elijah Walsh and Great Osobor came through, and veterans like myself, Rihards Šulcs and Jermayne Laing were able to help them.

“They’re immensely talented, but they’re really good because they want to listen to what we have to say, so they can learn and improve.”

Bradford finished 11th last season, before that second-round play-off defeat, but asked if this blend of young and old can lead Bradford to National Basketball League Division One glory, Fetske mused: “We never go into a game without the expectation of winning.

“There are some really sensational teams in Division One like Solent, Thames Valley and Hemel.

“Solent have had tonnes of success over the last couple of years, but we’ve beaten them within that run, and we’ve gone within one basket of beating Thames Valley twice, so we’re competitive with the top teams.

“But realistically we’re just trying to improve and get better year on year.

“As a leader I look at the process more than the outcome, but if we focus on that, then the results will come.”

The best results came early last season for the Dragons, with a tough end seeing them finishing 7-12, before a play-off win, then a defeat.

Fetske said: “It was a very unique year. We had lots of different training venues and overcame plenty of adversity.

“But there was great spirit in the squad and I think it was a great accomplishment to get to the second round and be competitive in the games we played.

“We played all our home games an hour and a half away in Nottingham (due to Covid-related venue unavailability in Bradford), so that was an additional challenge.

“But once we got suited up to play, we really bought into it and embraced it as our home court.”

Fetske considers the Dragons and West Yorkshire as his real home now, and said: “I’m a unique American really in that I’ve been in the country for nine years, seven of them with the Dragons.

“Most are normally here for one or two years to do a Masters, then go back home or to other countries to earn more lucrative contracts.

“I do really miss the US, and with the pandemic I haven’t travelled back there in 20 months, but I’ve made West Yorkshire my home.

“The Dragons team is my family in a way, and I met my wife here through basketball. We have a kid and live in Leeds.

“Basketball is not my top priority, and the pandemic has reinforced that. But I appreciate how it’s opened doors for me.

“I’m coaching youngsters in Bradford throughout the summer and doing sports psychology work too, working on a project with different coaches.”