New Perth Wildcats coach John Rillie is confident Luke Travers will be with the NBL club next season despite the buzz the NBA recruit is generating at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Rillie was unveiled as the new Wildcats coach on Monday, with the former Townsville Crocodiles star signing a three-year deal.
The 50-year-old replaces Scott Morrison, who stunned the Wildcats last month when he announced he was returning home to Canada for family reasons after just one season.
Rillie, who was an assistant at the Boomers at the Tokyo Olympics, is on a scouting mission at the NBA summer league.
The Wildcats are on the lookout for another two imports, and they are desperate to retain the services of Travers.
The 20-year-old was selected by Cleveland with pick No.56 in this year’s NBA draft, and he has impressed them already with his talent and basketball IQ.
But the Wildcats are confident Travers will be loaned back to Perth for another NBL season.
“I would say that’s trending in a very good direction,” said Rillie, who missed out on the Wildcats coaching role a year ago when Trevor Gleeson left for the NBA.
“Fortunately enough I got to watch him play today (in Las Vegas), and I look at him as a very key component of the Wildcats in the near future.
“I’m excited to be coaching Luke Travers.
“He has flashes of brilliance and everyone can see he can be a game changer for the Wildcats to take them to the next level.”
As a player, Rillie notched 481 NBL games from 1995 to 2010 across stints with the Brisbane Bullets, Adelaide 36ers, West Sydney Razorbacks, Townsville Crocodiles, and NZ Breakers.
Known for his three-point shooting and prolific scoring, Rillie had two 45-point games and broke the hearts of Wildcats fans with 10 triples to end Perth’s 2009 finals campaign while playing under Trevor Gleeson at Townsville.
“Oh man, I’ve had that on loop for the past couple of days,” Rillie joked when asked about that match.
Rillie was a part of the Boomers program from 1997 to 2004, representing Australia at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Since retiring in 2010, Rillie has spent more than a decade developing his coaching craft in the US college system, spending time at UC Santa Barbara and Boise State University.
Rillie, who will retain his role at the Boomers, is determined to guide the Wildcats back to Championship success after the club missed the playoffs last season for the first time in 35 years.
Meanwhile, Melbourne United guard Matthew Dellavedova is reportedly working out with the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas in the hope of returning to the NBA.
Fellow Boomer Dante Exum, who was the fifth pick in the 2014 NBA draft, has signed with Serbian club Partizan Belgrade.