A former college basketball teammate, new Melbourne United import Marcus Lee says he can see the change in Isaac Humphries since he came out as the NBL's first openly gay player.
Lee will suit up for United on Saturday against Tasmania, having flown in from a stint in Spain's Liga ACB.
Coming almost straight off the plane, he played 16 minutes in their 84-69 loss to South East Melbourne last weekend.
Standing 208cm, the American will provide support for Humphries at the five, filling the hole left by Ariel Hukporti, United's Next Star who tore his Achilles tendon in pre-season.
He has replaced import Jordan Caroline, who has joined Lee's Spanish club Baxi Manresa.
He will also provide support off the court, with Lee and Humphries like family since they spent two years playing together at the University of Kentucky in 2015-2016.
"We were in the same best friend group so we were constantly together so now, we're going to be constantly together here, which is great," Lee told reporters on Thursday.
"My family was excited was because I have family here - I have Isaac's family here so I feel comfortable."
Lee said he was proud of the way 24-year-old Humphries handled global attention with his announcement last week and could already see a change in his demeanour.
United said the video of Humphries telling his teammates had been viewed eight million times.
"I absolutely loved that he was able to be open with the world and you can see his vibe and his energy kind of feels more relaxed that he can be himself," Lee, who has played in Italy, Turkey and Puerto Rico, said.
"It's been a huge step in the basketball and the sports world. "That's why you see soccer, retweeting and going and taking it way farther than what anybody's ever expected.
"He's opened the door for so many guys and women to be comfortable with their teammates, the people that they're supposed to be most comfortable with, so I think it's a huge thing and I hope it brings more to come."
A NBL powerhouse, Melbourne sit in unfamiliar territory toward the bottom of the ladder with a 5-7 win-loss record.
Coach Dean Vickerman said Humphries and Lee would share the centre role and hoped the American could help improve their offensive rebounding, which has been a weakness.
"We knew the culture fit was going to be outstanding and his basketball IQ, just his ability to pick everything up has been outstanding as well," Vickerman said of Lee.
"Now it's about how we take advantage of the assets that he has and that his athleticism and playing above the rim and giving him clarity about what we want from him.
"It's kind of what we've wanted with Ariel when we put this team together so we're trying to get back to that plan."