Twist of fate leads Wagstaff to Wildcats
As Wildcats skipper Jesse Wagstaff notched up his 450-game milestone for the club over the weekend, his first coach Rob Beveridge revealed a twist of fate got him there.
After graduating at Metro State University under former NBA coach Mike Dunlap back in 2009, Wagstaff was set to sign with South Dragons under Dunlap’s close friend and current Boomers mentor Brian Goorjian.
But the Dragons folded soon after before Beveridge, a Canberra product like Wagstaff who knew him and his family really well, pounced.
He signed a two-year deal to play for Beveridge and the Wildcats in June, 2009, and as they say, the rest is history.
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“He was actually going to sign with the Dragons because he went to college at Metro State University with Mike Dunlap,” Beveridge revealed.
“Mike Dunlap and Brian Goorjian are very close friends and he was actually going to sign with the Dragons, he was always going to come of Metro State and sign there.
“But they fell over so I straight away was going ‘OK, you’re coming to me’.”
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In their first season together, the Wildcats took out the NBL championship after a 2-1 grand final series victory over Wollongong Hawks.
It would be the first of a record-equalling six titles for Wagstaff.
Beveridge described the now 37-year-old as the ultimate role player, happy to do anything the team required, and had immense pride watching him grow from a Canberra kid to Wildcats captain.
“It’s been amazing to watch him grow from that kid out of Canberra because even when he played basketball in Canberra, he probably never had aspirations to be a professional player. I think it just happened and he was good at it,” Beveridge said.
“The first thing I noticed about him was his IQ. He’s the ultimate role player and he will do absolutely anything you need him to do, whether that’s play defence, rebound, score or ruffle the feathers of the opposition.
“He was so smart that he could get under the skin of players through his IQ.
“Everything he did, he was just the model athlete and left his ego at the door.
“He was just so meticulous with everything from weights to recovery and food.”
Wagstaff’s 450-game milestone will be honoured when the Wildcats host Brisbane at RAC Arena on Friday night.