Oliver Lafayette needed about five minutes to feel at home.
The former and future Mad Ants guard practiced with the team at Concordia Theological Seminary gymnasium on Tuesday for the first time since returning from a stint playing in Belgrade, Serbia.
Lafayette, who finished the year with the Boston Celtics last season, said he never felt comfortable with his team in Belgrade. He feels he fits Fort Wayne just fine.
“I'm already in game shape, so that's a bonus,” Lafayette said. “I'm just ready to get going. I'm comfortable out there; I know all the plays. … I'm just happy to be here, playing with a good coach.”
The Ants were uncertain whether Lafayette would gain his release from Belgrade in time to join the team on its road trip to Tulsa on Thursday and Friday. The team must release another player in order to add Lafayette to the roster.
Lafayette averaged 17.1 points per game and a team-best 6.5 assists per game for the Ants last season, playing primarily at the point.
Ants coach Joey Meyer said he is looking forward to having Lafayette in the rotation as soon as possible.
“He was tremendous for us at the end of last year,” Meyer said. “He gives us another weapon, and he's very good off the bounce. We're not a great team besides Walker (Russell) off the bounce. Everyone else is a more stationary shooter. Oliver gives us another guy who is great at coming down the floor and getting to the basket.”
Lafayette said he is looking forward to playing with Russell, whose presence will allow Lafayette to play more shooting guard, which is his more natural position.
“I played against Russell and I know he's a great point guard,” Lafayette said. “And I'm very comfortable coming back to Coach Meyer, who coached me last year.”
Lafayette said the style of basketball in Belgrade is “more closed in” and very different from the more wide-open style of ball in which he excels.
He is also looking forward to getting back in front of scouts to try to land another shot at the NBA.
“Joey runs an NBA style with pick and rolls and that type of thing, just like the basketball they play in the NBA,” Lafayette said. “When you do get to the NBA, that makes you more comfortable playing that style of basketball.”
Former Mad Ants forward Ron Howard was also at Ants practice on Tuesday, but only to watch and talk with his former coach and teammates.
Howard recently returned from playing in Israel, and he has not yet decided on his next basketball move.
Meyer said he is optimistic, but not certain, that center Chris Hunter will return to the lineup this week after missing Sunday's game with a sore knee.