Perth exploits pay off for Ennis
Perth exploits pay off for Ennis

James Ennis will strut his stuff among basketball's elite next season after signing his first NBA contract with the Miami Heat.

Superstar LeBron James announced last week he would leave Miami to return to Cleveland, but former Perth Wildcat Ennis will play alongside established stars Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng at the Heat.

Chris Bosh has also agreed to a new multi-year contract to remain in Miami.

Ennis, 24, has played for the Heat during the NBA Summer League this month, first in Orlando and now in Las Vegas.

The terms of his contract, announced yesterday, were not disclosed.

In 33 games with the Wildcats during the 2013-14 NBL season, Ennis averaged 21.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.

The small forward finished third in league MVP voting and led the Wildcats to their sixth NBL championship.

Ennis' performances in Australia and during a subsequent stint in Puerto Rico were closely monitored by the Heat.

Heat president Pat Riley said the organisation had been impressed with Ennis' development since he was selected in the second round (No.50 overall) in last year's NBA draft.

"We were excited to draft James a year ago and have been impressed by the growth of his game in Summer League and Puerto Rico, as well as his terrific experience in Australia, leading Perth to a championship," Riley said. "We are looking forward to the infusion of energy he will bring to our roster."

The Ennis experiment is expected to have a profound impact on NBL recruiting, with more NBA teams considering sending their fringe and developing players to Australia.

The NBL has introduced a marquee player rule this season in an attempt to attract top talent.

Clubs will be allowed to pay one star import outside the salary cap.

A Wildcats delegation led by coach Trevor Gleeson is currently on a scouting trip in the US, hopeful of landing another top NBA prospect for the 2014-15 NBL season, which tips off in October.

·Australian prospect Cameron Bairstow did his chances of earning an NBA contract no harm, tallying 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists for Chicago in their 107-73 Summer League win over Minnesota yesterday.

Bairstow was a second-round pick (No.49 overall) in last month's draft.

We … have been impressed by the growth of his game …" *Pat Riley *

The West Australian

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