NBA beckons brilliant Ennis

BASKETBALL

It remains to be seen if Wollongong has seen the last of import Rotnei Clarke, but the chances of Perth Wildcats sensation James Ennis ever returning to Australia might be remote.

Clarke and fellow import Kevin Tiggs formed an effective combination with the Hawks this season and the club will try to re-sign the pair.

Ennis is another story.

Most long-time NBL followers agree that the 23-year-old is easily one of the most talented players in the league's 35-year history.

Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks last year, his rights were traded to the Miami Heat.

The Heat wanted Ennis to play in the NBA Development League, but he decided that a move to Australia to join the Wildcats was his best option.

He was clearly numero uno in the NBL this season, despite the impressive performances put up by Clarke, Chris Goulding, Sam Young and Daniel Johnson.

Ennis was outstanding in the best-of-three semi-final sweep of Wollongong.

He had three points at half-time of game one before scoring 22 in the second half of a 91-79 victory.

The 200-centimetre forward was similarly quiet in the first half of Sunday's second game. That changed in the second half when he scored 15 of his 20 points, helping his team to an 80-61 win.

Ennis is good enough to play in the NBA right now.

If he performs well in NBA Summer League camps and games, chances are he won't ever be seen again in the NBL.

"He's one of the best players I've come across. He's way up there," Perth coach Trevor Gleeson said.

"People see the points but they don't see the rebounds, the steals. He plays team basketball. He could go out there every night and drop 30 if he was a selfish player. He's having a great year for us and he's making us better.

"He has bigger and better ambitions and hopefully we can help him achieve those. But if he doesn't, we'd certainly like him back in Perth."

Good as Ennis was in the semi-final series, he wasn't his team's best player in game two.

Veteran forward Shawn Redhage tallied a game-high 26 points, nailing a perfect six-of-six three-point shots.

"We didn't do a good enough job on Shawn Redhage," Hawks coach Gordie McLeod said.

"He got hot early and hurt us."

The Cats kept close defensive tabs on Wollongong long bombers Clarke (1/5 threes) and Oscar Forman (1/2)

"Our defence was outstanding," Gleeson said.

"To hold Wollongong to 61 points on their home court, with two absolute rock star shooters, it was a fabulous effort from all of us."

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