NOKIA, FINLAND – Middleburg High graduate and Xavier University basketball star Malcolm Bernard, currently playing professionally in Australia, has been signed to play in Finland for the BC Nokia …
NOKIA, FINLAND – Middleburg High graduate and Xavier University basketball star Malcolm Bernard, currently playing professionally in Australia, has been signed to play in Finland for the BC Nokia team in the Finnish professional league called Korisliiga, according to an announcement from Korisliiga.
Bernard, 24, will be joined by ex-Xavier teammate Sean O’Mara, a center, who was a 6’-10” center for Xavier. .
“Malcolm and Sean are good friends and, of course, is easier to come to Europe for the first time, when the team is already a familiar face,” BC Nokia head coach Ville Tuominen said. “Malcolm has been running throughout the summer on our list, and Sean’s agreement will also be in his interest in us grew significantly. Both seem to be genuinely hungry guys and appreciate the opportunity to create a name for himself in Europe more than the dollar amount of the contract, so the contracts were created in an instant.”
Bernard, reached via text in Australia, said the transition should be made easier with O’Mara there and that the cold weather will be one his adjustments.
“It’s going to make the transition easier as I loved playing with him at Xavier,” said Bernard. “He was my guy, we were pretty cool and I’m sure having him there will make things easier. The cold, I hope I can get used to that.”
BC Nokia plays in the Korisliiga, the highest tier of Finnish basketball with 11 professional teams.
In 2018, Kauhajoki Karhu Basket defeated Salon Vilpas 4-2 in the league championship best of seven series.
In 2016, Nokia, formed in 1997, finished third in just their third season after being beat in the semi-finals. Last year, Nokia finished fourth.
The six foot, six inch Bernard is currently playing in Australia, but is expected in Finland Aug. 30-31
Bernard started his career as Charleston Southern University, then transferred for his junior year at Florida A & M’s. There Bernard averaged 14.4 points per game, 7.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
In his final year of eligibility at Xavier University, Bernard averaged 6.6 points per game.
During the 2016 NCAA tournament, Bernard appeared in the Xavier Musketeers shirt 38 times, of which 35 starts and was instrumental in Xavier’s Final Four appearance with his defensive skills.
“He was their ‘glue guy’, who defended the opponent’s best players,” said Tuominen. “He is a very versatile guy who we will be playing in places 1-3. He can handle the ball, has a long reach and is able to defend different game locations and will help our rebound game.”
Bernard liked the “glue guy” monicker, but thinks his game will be more offense.
“I was a glue guy for sure at Xavier, but I know that won’t be my role at Nokia,” said Bernard. “I can handle a huge role wherever I go.”
At the moment, Bernard plays for Australia Rockhampton Rockets in QBL HCl (Queensland Basketball League), where he has stats of average of 29.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
“I expect that we will win the championship, that I give everything that I have, and I help teams as much as possible, “ said Bernard on his Nokia arrival. “Australia basketball is good and I learned a ton about basketball and as a person staying here.”
BC Nokia is currently third in league play at 24-16 overall behind Salon Vilpas (32-8), Karhu (28-12)