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Teammates help secure Wagstaff for next three seasons
Wednesday, June 08, 2011, 04:24:00 AM
Jesse Wagstaff is recognised as one of the best and most versatile talents in Australia and as a result has been included in the Boomers training squad for the upcoming YouYi Series with China, but it was a massive coup for the Perth Wildcats to recently re-sign him for three years.

Wagstaff was off contract at the end of the 2011/12 iiNet NBL Championship season following his first two years as a pro out of Metro State University.

His rookie season saw him become a key component in the 2009/10 championship while winning the NBL Rookie of the Year award.

Then despite injury restricting him to 19 games last season plus the three semi-final clashes with the New Zealand Breakers, Wagstaff again showed his quality, toughness, competitiveness and all-round talent every time he was on the court.

At just 25 years of age and with an ability to battle the real big boys down low, display some strong post moves, defend well inside and also have a good game on the perimeter offensively and defensively, Wagstaff was hot property once his contract expired.

However, when he was weighing up his future knowing that Damian Martin, Brad Robbins, Kevin Lisch, Drew Williamson, Cam Tovey, Matt Knight, Shawn Redhage and Matt Knight would all be back was a deciding factor in him re-signing for three years.

"To tell you the truth I think it's the guys.

The group as a whole is just a fantastic bunch of guys and especially with Damo and Toves signing three-year deals as well it really helped me make up my mind," Wagstaff said.

"Shawny still has two years to go as well, Matty has two years left and there's a lot of guys here who are great character guys and even the front office staff and coaches are great.

It's a fantastic environment and culture, and to have the privilege to play with those calibre guys is something special.

" While in the end he has signed on with the Wildcats for the next three years to secure his future, it wasn’t all smooth sailing in the lead up to the free agency deadline.

There was a moment when it appeared Wagstaff was heading elsewhere, but in the end he was glad to agree to terms with the 'Cats.

"It was a pretty interesting afternoon.

I was actually getting a massage and doing all the things you do in Bali like sitting by the pool, but it all came down to pretty much the last couple of hours.

It all got worked out in the end, though, and I'm glad that it did," he said.

"My agent Geoff was assuring me that if things didn’t work out with Perth there would be other options possibly, and I had considered them, but Perth is a great place and I have loved my two years here.

Signing a three-year deal now is very exciting especially with the other guys they've got back.

It's just good to be back.

" After winning the championship in his first season in Perth, the Wildcats could well have got closer to going back-to-back had it not been for some injury troubles last season.

Wagstaff played an outstanding semi-final series against the Breakers, but in the end eventual champions New Zealand won Game 3.

Trying to win another championship is without question a big driving factor for Wagstaff and all the other returning Wildcats players.

"Kind of unfinished business I guess to an extent.

We have a great group of guys and they are extremely talented as well," he said.

"We were playing some good basketball towards the end of last season and I feel that we put ourselves in a position where we could have got to the grand final, and if you do that then anything's possible.

A lot of the guys are confident in the group we have and we've almost got everyone to come back so it's exciting times.

" Not only is Wagstaff glad to have re-signed with the Wildcats, but to do so for three years is a great show of faith from both him and the club.

The prospect of playing in the new Perth Arena from 2012/13 onwards is also exciting for him.

"A bit of stability is always good.

I don’t want to be a journeyman and play a year here, and a year there.

Especially with the other guys signing for three years as well it's good to know that you'll almost be assured that you'll be spending that time around quality people," he said.

"Not this coming season, but the next one that will be extremely exciting.

Obviously the front office is working extremely hard in signing the numbers that they need to fill that and I think we can with the support we have here.

It's very exciting and taking the tour was great to see what basketball in Western Australia is going to look like in the coming years.

" Wagstaff has now resumed playing in the SBL with the Perth Redbacks and in a couple of weeks time will head into Boomers training camp ahead of the YouYi Series with China, so he's certainly not taking it easy in the off-season.

"I will play some SBL, keep in shape and the off-season is where you do most of the work," Wagstaff said.

"I'll be working on my game and the individual aspects of, and get some work in and conditioning work as well.

It's exciting times looking ahead.