Ahead of his return to Perth next month for elite basketball camps, 2014 Wildcats MVP and now Memphis Grizzles star James Ennis spoke to wildcats.com.au about his professional career to date.
After leading the Wildcats to a championship in 2014, Ennis was signed by Miami where he spent his first season in the NBA.
His second season saw him signed and waived by Memphis, return to the NBA Development League, before a strong nine-game stint with New Orleans.
This led to him heading back to the Grizzlies for his most consistent season, where he played 64 games in 2016/17, averaging 23.4 minutes and featured as a starter in his first NBA Playoffs campaign.
“It meant a lot to me to come into my third season and play in the Playoffs and guard one of the best players in the world in Kawhi Leonard. My first season in Miami was a rebuild year so I didn’t get a chance to play in the playoffs and unfortunately I missed the Playoffs in my second season with the Grizzlies as I moved to another rebuilding team in the Pelicans,” said Ennis.
“I feel blessed to have found a coach and a team that really believes in me. I can now play more free without having to worry about my contract. I am really looking forward to next year to show my next step as a consistent starter and play for my big contract and more wins.”
Ennis averaged 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, knocking down 45.5 per cent of his shots.
“I have really honed in on becoming a knock down three-point shooter and learning where to be at all times on defense. My next step that I have been really focusing in on this summer is my mid-range game and ball handling,” he said.
“I have learned that it’s not always about hitting a homerun, but about being consistent on the floor. Not to force too much and let the game come to me. Also I have really learned how to be a pro both on and off the court.”
James Ennis season in the NBL was a game-changer for the competition.
Since the Californian set the league on fire with dominant, athletic displays in 2013/14, the standard and the entertainment factor has increased significantly across the board.
Australia is now seen as a development destination for fringe NBA talent, and Ennis really is the man to thank for this.
“It really makes my time in the NBL special to see the league come so far after I left and many players following my lead making the jump from the NBL to the NBA. Many NBA teams now are taking the path of drafting players and putting them in the NBL to develop after seeing my success.”
Ennis has fond memories of his time in Perth.
“I loved my time at Perth and I still follow how they are doing during the season and definitely keep in touch with the staff at the Wildcats and some of my fans and friends still living in Perth. One of my former teammates, Drake U’u, is now with the Sacramento Kings and we still keep in touch,” he said.
“The fans in Perth were the best and always supported me and just the people in general were so nice and accepted me with open arms. And I obviously miss the Kangaroos and Koalas!”
James Ennis will be in Perth for elite basketball camps on 29 and 30 July.
Camps will be held in Cockburn and Floreat for both 9-13 year-olds and 14-17 year-olds.