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Melbourne United bolster NBL squad with Rathan-Mayes signing

Melbourne United entered the offseason in search of more offensive firepower after a heavy reliance on star guard Chris Goulding left them wanting in the NBL postseason.

In addition to the explosive Rayjon Tucker, United have inked a familiar face, with former Illawarra Hawk, Xavier Rathan-Mayes making his way south to play under head coach Dean Vickerman at John Cain Arena.

During Las Vegas Summer League, Vickerman revealed to ESPN that a conversation with coaching legend Brian Goorjian confirmed his belief that the team needed to add perimeter scoring to their usual defensive prowess.

"I had a really good talk with Goorj after the semi-finals and he was referring some teams that he put together where you totally believe in the defence, and you continue to collect really great defensive players," Vickerman said.

"Sometimes you just miss having that guy who can go get a bucket. We needed that from someone when Chris went down, and we just didn't have that guy so we've just got to replace it and make sure we've got an absolute go to and if we have an injury, we have another player we can certainly go to as well to get that bucket."

Via a club release, Vickerman pointed to a glowing recommendation of Rathan-Mayes from Goorjian, with the Canadian guard finishing a finalist for Best Sixth Man in NBL22 with the Hawks.

Rathan-Mayes continues a mass exodus from Illawarra, with the two-way guard joining Antonius Cleveland (Adelaide), Duop Reath (Chinese CBA) and Justinian Jessup (Spain) as big names to move on, following on from Goorjian who called time on a successful two-year stint with the club.

"We had conversations (with Illawarra), but it came down to a lot of change. Dorry (Kordahi), the one that brought me in with Goorj, they were both gone. Then, our core group of guys wanted to stay together believe it or not, we all wanted to, but it just felt like there was another direction they were wanting to go.

"AC went to Adelaide, Duop was taking his time and there was still a possibility to go back but in the end the opportunity to play at Melbourne United, such a great organisation, under such a great coach, I've known Chris Goulding for a while, it was great and something I wanted to explore."

The dual import signings drop ahead of another expected addition in the coming days, as Melbourne swiftly piece together their roster after Jack White and Matthew Dellavedova picked up NBA opportunities in recent weeks. The uncertainty over who would return for the upcoming season left United in limbo, with Rathan-Mayes patiently waiting for the next move.

"There was definitely a waiting game involved. I met with them a couple times, had a couple of really nice sitdowns with Dean and had another meeting in Vegas and I was really high on them, they were just waiting for a couple things with their pieces.

"It was something I was willing to wait for, I felt the opportunity to play there was great, I would have an enhanced role, play among some elite talent and have the opportunity to win a championship. That's what allowed me to wait a little longer than I would have in the past."

Rathan-Mayes denies he is a certain starter on opening night, with Tucker, Goulding and Shea Ili all battling for major minutes in a suddenly busy United rotation, though he does expect to be more involved than he was last season with Illawarra, where he averaged 23 minutes per game.

"There are no expectations of starting. I think it will be a healthy training camp of competition, I think we have elite guys at all positions. It starts with Ariel (Hukporti) and Isaac (Humphries), we have some elite wings, we have elite guards including Shea. He beat me out in sixth man last year, obviously he's a cornerstone and a key piece.

"I just know my role will be a little bit bigger than it was with Illawarra. I came in late last season and had to figure it out on the fly, but I've had discussions with Dean about my role and what they expect, and they want me to be aggressive scoring point guard who can also get guys involved."

"Late parts of the game it will be pick your poison, are you going to help of Chris? Are you going to help off Rayjon? What are willing to give up in those situations? Offensively I think we're going to be really special."

While the offensive side of the ball will create intrigue, per SpatialJam.com United gave up 5.7 fewer points per 100 possessions across the regular season than the second ranked team, in a suffocating display on that end of the floor. Rathan-Mayes is adamant there won't be an offensive-defensive trade off, in fact, he believes the clamps will be tightened further.

"I understand Melbourne has led the league defensively and I think I add to that with my ability to guard at point guard and switch one through four and cause havoc. It plays into having an elite defender like Shea, we're going to be able to play together and I think that's scary for offenses to see."

"Bringing in Rayjon and myself brings a lot of offensive firepower. On the flipside you don't lose anything defensively, I think you gain defensively. Offensively I think we're going to be really special, and I think we get better defensively.

"With our core group of guys, I think offensively and defensively we're going to be really, really good and I'm just looking forward to putting this thing together."

At the time of year where most clubs believe they are a contender, Melbourne United could once again be in the mix.