Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge has heaped praise on new signing Luke Nevill, describing the WA product as a potential NBA player.
Standing at 218cm and weighing 120kg, Nevill is the biggest player in the NBL this season and has already had an impact in a Wildcats singlet during a standout pre-season campaign.
But it was only late in the piece that Nevill became a possible target for the Wildcats, who had been attempting to lure NBA superstar Andrew Bogut on a short-term deal.
When the Bogut deal fell through, Nevill was still available and the Wildcats pounced.
"There’s no question every coach would want a player like (Bogut) but that would’ve only been for short term gain," Beveridge said at the Wildcats’ official season launch this morning.
"Having Luke is a long-term prospect. He’s the biggest player in Australia and I believe he can play in the NBA.
"He just needs to find a home and hopefully now that he’s back in Perth, he can stay."
Nevill, 25, spent a short stint with Russian PBL club Triumph Lyubertsy earlier this year after leaving the Melbourne Tigers.
He returned to Perth when his contract in Russia ran out and initially joined the Wildcats as part of the extended training squad in order to keep fit.
But Nevill did enough to earn a full-time contract and agrees playing his basketball at home in WA under the tutelage of Beveridge will be best for his development.
"All my friends and family are here so it’s a good situation," Nevill told thewest.com.au after penning a one-year deal a fortnight ago.
"I think if I’m happy off the court in a comfortable environment, I’m going to see the results on the court.
"The coaching staff and players have been welcoming and they’ll definitely help me progress."
Co-captain Brad Robbins said the Wildcats had already seen the impact Nevill could have this season.
The big man averaged 10 points and eight rebounds in wins over Townsville, Melbourne and Sydney as the Wildcats claimed the Sunshine State Challenge crown last week.
"He’s going to be fantastic and he’s already shown what he’s capable of," Robbins said.
"He’s (218cm) and anybody that size, regardless of the skill level, is just going to be such a big addition to the team.
"The bonus is with Luke he is a very, very skilled ‘big’. He’s got great touch around the basket, he can change shots and he can move his feet well.
"He’s adapting to our style of play very well, which is up-and-down, so he’s just going to be a great addition and I think he’ll be a dominant player in this league."
The Wildcats take on the Shanghai Sharks and Singapore Slingers at the Cable Beach Invitational in Broome this week before turning their attention to the NBL season opener against Adelaide on October 8.