Hong Kong Eastern have announced that they have signed 23-year-old Trey Kell and 26-year-old TJ Price as two of their three imports for the upcoming ABL season—along with recently re-signed big man Michael Holyfield. The news comes after the reports of Marcus Elliott’s exit from the team to join the Singapore Slingers.
Trey Kell is a 6’4″ guard who first came out as a prospect from San Diego State University. Kell averaged 10.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists during his senior year for the Aztecs. After his collegiate stint, he began his professional career by moving to Europe before returning to North America to play in the National Basketball League of Canada.
Trey Kell had a spectacular run with the Moncton Magic as he averaged all-around stats of 21.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.6 APG, and 1.7 SPG, eventually leading the Canadian squad to its first championship finish—awarding him Finals MVP.
Despite his historic run in the NBLC, Trey wanted to further hone his basketball career as he leaped to play in one of Asia’s biggest leagues, the ASEAN Basketball League—cladding the blue and white for Hong Kong Eastern.
In an interview, Trey shared what went through his mind upon deciding to play in the Southeast Asian region. “I decided to come to this league because I felt like it was a league that can help me further my career,” he said. Trey added that former ABL import Winston Shepard also played a part in influencing him to head to Asia as Shepard “talked to him about [the] league and told [him] great things about it.”
On the other hand, TJ Price was a former standout for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Listing at 6’5”, he is an adept guard with a knack of a smooth shooting touch and defensive capabilities. Price then decided to embark on his professional basketball career—first playing in France for Lille Metropole BC. He then got the opportunity to showcase his skills in the NBA Developmental League for the Lakeland Magic (previously the Erie Bayhawks), until he moved back to Europe to play for Egis Kormend.
Price then got an update from his agent that Hong Kong Eastern was interested in having him on board as one of their World Imports and gladly accepted the offer. During his interview, he said that his trainer Matt Binder told him countless times that if he stumbles upon a chance to play in Asia, he should grab it.
According to him, “Well my friend/trainer [Matt Binder] is very big on leagues in Asia. He always told me that if I get a chance to play over there, I should take it. Then the following year my agent tells me Eastern is interested so I immediately took an interest.”
Price also admired the professionalism within the league and the fan atmosphere during games, which led him to fully commit to playing for Hong Kong Eastern.
When asked about their game, both had different things to say. Trey explained, “I’m a player who can do a little of everything. I pride myself on not being one dimensional and I feel like I can affect the game in multiple ways.” Meanwhile, Price says that people should wait for the season to assess his game, and is solely focused on winning. “Can I put up numbers? I know so but this season I want to WIN. If it takes putting up numbers, then I will or if it takes to just playing great defense then I will or even setting up players passing the ball. This season you’re going to see me do whatever it takes to win. I’m all about winning!” he adds.
Kell then added that people describe his game similar to Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson, while Price never thought of comparing his game to anyone. But if he were to be asked, TJ answered that his on-court mentality is as same as with Clippers stars Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard. “I think my mentality at times could be like a Pat Beverley or Kawhi Leonard to where I can score if we need a bucket or I can play defense to lock up the opposing team,” he elaborates.
Both American floor generals expressed their gratitude towards the team. Kell told the ABL that their experiences with Hong Kong Eastern have nothing but wholehearted acceptance from his teammates and staff.
“Everything has been great… my teammates have been accepting of me and helping me with what I need and the same with the coaching staff they have been very helpful. So [it has] been a smooth transition.” Kell stated.
Price then inserted that his teammates and staff were not only treating them nicely but also were exemplifying a great work ethic. “It’s been great so far. everyone seems to be nice and everyone is working hard right now. As a player, you have to love that everyone is trying to get better because that gives you confidence that you’re not the only one here who cares about winning and try to win a championship.”
Although Eastern welcomed them as the leading backcourt for next season, fans will be expecting more out of them as they will fill in the roles of O’Darien Bassett and the former ABL MVP Marcus Elliott. Despite the pressure, the duo of Kell and Price keep their composure intact.
“No, I don’t feel any pressure because when I went to Canada it was the same thing where I was replacing a player the fans loved so I’ll be used it and know if I play my game everything will be good and the fans will be happy,” Kell answered.
Price then added that their backcourt duo will be completely different from theirs. Price stated, “We are here to play our game and make the team better. Not try to do what they did or mimic them. We both know what we can do, it’s just new to the fans. Once we get started and the fans get to see us, I’m pretty sure they will be very, very happy with what we bring to the court.”
In their upcoming ABL debut, Kell and Price expect to take their game up a notch. Trey said, “I just expect to perform to my potential and be able to lead the team to wins. And my goals [are] to be able to play at the highest level I can and don’t settle for less.”
For Price, he is focused on becoming a mainstay in the Asian basketball scene. “This season I have no personal goal. I just want to win. Once I’ve shown I’m a winner, I believe everything else would come…”
Even though they recently lost the Elliott-Bassett duo, Hong Kong Eastern took a fresher turn in revamping their lineup through signing younger guards who are full of potential. Trey and TJ look to prove to everyone that Eastern should not be crossed out in the hunt for the ABL championship.