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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Wildcats to come back stronger; Rillie

Perth Wildcats coach John Rillie says he is excited to continue moulding the organisation in his own image after having his contract extended.

The Wildcats announced on Tuesday they had exercised a third-year option on Rillie’s contract, meaning he would be with the club until at least the end of the 2024/25 season.

Rillie told Sports Breakfast he was delighted to be staying in Perth.

“I took the job late in the piece of last season, inherited the roster and the coaching staff,” Rillie said.

“Outside of Mike Kelly, I had no previous relationship with anyone else, and it’s not as if Mike Kelly and myself are hanging out every day.

“I went in with open eyes and embraced what was there, but as I move into the role and moving forward, I have to start to put my touch on it, myself and Danny Mills, with our vision and where we want the team and the franchise going.

“Like any successful organisation, there’s going to be some change.”

In the midst of the NBL contracting period, the future of Wildcats legend Jesse Wagstaff, who has played 446 games and won 6 championships with the club, remains unclear.

Rillie said the club and the 37-year-old were taking time to assess their options.

“He’s at that stage in his career where I want him to have the time so he’s comfortable with the decision he makes,” he said.

“I want to give him space because he’s been a great player and servant of the club for 14 years, very successful.

“I want to make sure he makes the right decision for himself and for his family.”

The Wildcats announced last week they had dipped into the Next Star market for the first time, signing French prospect Alexandre Sarr, a former Real Madrid youth player who spent the last two seasons with the Overtime Elite league.

Rillie said the club was excited to help the 18-year-old develop his game.

“There’s always a lot of hype about the Next Star,” he said. “We just feel like he’s a good fit for this. His physical attributes, 7’1”, athletic, hopefully he should help with some rim protection, some rebounding.

“He is what I would call a modern-day forward where although he’s 7’1”, he does have the ability to step outside and make a three-point shot.

“He’s got the talent because if you look at all the mock drafts and everything, very highly rated for the 2024 NBA Draft.”

Alongside Sarr, the Wildcats currently have Bryce Cotton, Keanu Pinder, Corey Webster, Tai Webster, Hyrum Harris, David Okwera, Ben Henshall, Kyle Zunic, Michael Harris, and Jack Andrew under contract, with Rillie saying the three remaining spots on the roster were likely to be filled by one local and two imports.

IMAGE: The West Australian.


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