Chris Goulding inks three-year extension with Melbourne United

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Australian Boomers guard Chris Goulding has signed a three-year deal to return to Melbourne United, the team announced on Friday.

Goulding's return to the NBL in 2015 saw him rejoin the league's Melbourne franchise, where he's become a household name; leading the team to a championship in 2018 and walking away with that season's Grand Final MVP award.

Over the course of the 2019-20 season, Goulding averaged 17 points per game for United, while shooting just under 40 percent from beyond the arc; the 31-year-old then entering NBL Free Agency as arguably the most prominent player on the market. Goulding turned down offers from teams in France, Turkey, and Serbia, sources told ESPN, but the shooting guard cited his history with United as a big factor in his re-signing.

"I'm really excited," Goulding said. "I love this city; I love the fans here and I really enjoy putting on the Melbourne United jersey and running out in front of a packed Melbourne United Arena."

"It was a really interesting time to be discussing a new contract, as this pandemic has affected everyone in so many different ways. However, I was really encouraged by the journey we have been on as a club, and I want to be a part of it going forward into hopefully another championship campaign."

The official announcement of Goulding's return came just days after United signed Australian rookie, Jack White, with Dean Vickerman's team having locked in a heap of local talent.

Goulding was United's highest-scoring domestic player during the 2019-20 season, and is likely to replicate that role for his upcoming campaign.

"We all know what kind of player Chris is, and just how good he can be - he is a player of elite calibre both in the NBL and Australian basketball." Vickerman, United's head coach, said.

"He is a huge part of our team and it was a priority for us this off-season to get Chris to come back. He is a key piece in our core group, and that key group of players returning is not only important for us as coaching staff, but also for our fans."

"Chris had other opportunities in front of him, so we're happy he's made the choice to stay with the club. To see that is really encouraging - these guys are on a journey together with us and it really shows unity within our core group."

Goulding will join White, Casey Prather, Mitch McCarron, Shea Ili, and Jo Lual Acuil Jr. as contracted members of United's roster. Free agency officially opened on Wednesday.

Prather's position at United, however, is one that's been brought into question over the off-season, sources said, with the likelihood growing that the import wing will be released due to concerns over his health and fitness.