Perth Wildcats import James Ennis has revealed he is joining the NBL club to assist his financially embattled family.
Ennis was taken by Atlanta with pick no.50 in the NBA Draft in June and traded to Miami, who wanted the 23-year-old to play his first professional season in the D-League.
There, Ennis would have made no more than $25,000. But he instead opted to sign a one-year deal with the Wildcats worth more than $100,000.
Ennis reportedly has five brothers and sisters. His mother, Denise Taylor, is disabled and can’t work and his father, James Ennis, is a painter.
“They (Miami) wanted me to go the D-League,” Ennis told Fox Sports Florida.
“I basically put my family first. My family is struggling (financially), and I want to help support them. So that’s why I’m going (to Australia).”
Ennis played college basketball at Long Beach State and impressed Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson with his performances at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas last month.
He is expected to arrive in Perth later this week.
“It was a big signing for us and a happy day for us on Saturday, so hopefully we can get him in here real soon,” Gleeson said.
“He’s athletic. We haven’t seen a good swingman in the NBL for a long time, so hopefully he can do that at the professional level.
“We’ve certainly seen that in the Summer League he can do it.
“I know the team is excited to have him and we can’t wait for him to get here.”
Ennis stands at 200cm and weighs 90kg, can get to the basket and shoot from long range.
His aerial ability should excite local fans and his versatility is expected to be an asset for the Wildcats.
“He can play shooting guard, small forward or power forward,” Gleeson said.
“We certainly want him to get up on the boards, rebounding and running hard.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to do a couple of slams along the way and entertain the crowd.”
Miami have retained the rights to Ennis, who has an opt-out clause that would allow him to leave the Wildcats for the NBA during the season and still get his full NBL salary.
But it is more likely Ennis will play the full NBL season and join the Heat next year.
The Wildcats have a spot available for a second import and are on the hunt for a shooting guard to replace former league MVP Kevin Lisch, who has joined French champions JSF Nanterre.