The security of a multi-year contract with the Perth Wildcats, familiarity with the team and a love of the WA lifestyle played major roles in luring American import Jermaine Beal back to the National Basketball League.
Beal returned to Perth this week after a stint at home in the United States and was back on the practice court with his teammates at the WA Basketball Centre today.
Last season, Beal slotted in as an ideal replacement for outgoing star Kevin Lisch, winning the Larry Sengstock Medal as MVP of the grand final series win over the Adelaide 36ers.
The talented 26-year-old guard took time over the past few months to assess an array of contract offers from around the world, but couldn’t look past the Wildcats.
Beal signed a one-year deal with an option for a second year, which must be ticked off by both the player and the club.
At this stage, it’s hard to see either party pulling out.
“Having a deal here for two years gave me insurance in a way, so I took it,” Beal said.
“I had a couple of options but I wanted to come back not only for me, but for my family too. Everything sure worked out.”
Beal returns to the Wildcats this season with six of his championship teammates and another, Mathiang Muo, who comes back onto the roster after a season on the sidelines with an Achilles injury.
As has been the case with so many imports over the years, Beal fell in love with WA and bought into the Wildcats’ strong team-first culture.
“I’ve been travelling. My passport’s stamped, man, but I just wanted to stay here for a while,” Beal said.
“I like it here. Good team, good coach, good city, so I’m back.”
The Wildcats will begin their official pre-season training program next month under the guidance of interim coach Paul Woolpert, who will take control for two months while championship-winning mentor Trevor Gleeson is away with the national team.
The Wildcats are still on the lookout for a second import to replace NBA-bound James Ennis and have one more spot on the roster for a local player.
The club is believed to be close to signing a player of similar pedigree Ennis, who was a second-round NBA draft pick last year and effectively spent last season on loan to the Wildcats.