Recruiting lessons learnt during more than a decade in the AFL combined with philosophies from the movie Moneyball have delivered the Perth Lynx the type of roster most clubs only dream of ahead of the club’s first match of the WNBL season.
The Lynx will enter the season having added dual WNBA championship winner and former captain Sami Whitcomb, WNBA No.1 draft pick and Olympic gold medallist Jackie Young, WNBA Most Improved Player nominee Marina Mabrey and Australian Opal Lauren Scherf to the group from last season and achieved their task with salary cap room to spare.
Lynx General Manager Brent Dawkins knew he had his work cut out for him when coach Ryan Petrik handed him a wish list of potential recruits. But Dawkins had been part of recruiting big names at the Fremantle Dockers and set his sights on matching the famous 1999 draft haul by targeting the next wave of basketball superstars from around the world.
“If we can grab a Pav (Matthew Pavlich) and a Leigh Brown and a Paul Hasleby then we’d be more than happy with that at the end of the season,” Dawkins told The West Australian’s The Dribble Podcast.
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“Trying to predict the future in any draft or any recruiting thing doesn’t always work out.
“But trying to get them and predict that they’re going to have great seasons – Jackie had another fantastic season for Las Vegas and got the call up late to the Olympic team, Marina had a break out season as well. So far so good and everything has ticked the boxes.”
Scherf’s rise to winning an Asia Cup bronze medal for Australia only months after signing also showed a keen eye for the future and highlighted Perth’s focus of building a squad aged between 24-27.
Whitcomb, 33, is the exception, but she’s also the club’s most successful player. The Lynx negotiated a pay out of Whitcomb’s French contract to keep her in WA with wife Kate and son Nash.
“The deal had to be worked through. It doesn’t happen quickly. It was virtually a buy out figure at the end of getting out of her contract in France,” Dawkins said.
“I’ve been involved in sport for over 20 years in Perth and watched a lot of people train and a lot of people play at the elite level – people talk about Sam’s work ethic and training ethic, she is up there with anyone I’ve ever seen. She is unbelievable.”
Meanwhile the Lynx are set to receive an extra home game with their clash against Adelaide on February 17 set to be moved to Perth.
“It looks like we’ve gained another home game. That’s a bonus for us,” Dawkins said.