18/04/2024

The Perth Wildcats have had many champions over their 40 year history. (Photo: Perth Wildcats)

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the first game played by the Perth Wildcats. As such, we have ranked the 40 best Wildcats of all time.

February 6, 2022 marks 40 years since the Perth Wildcats played their first game.

A lot of things have changed since then, including their name, their colours, their branding and where they play. But the 10 time NBL Champions still hold the title as the most successful professional basketball club in Australian history.

While players come and go, their legacies will always be remembered by the Red Army faithful. The Inner Sanctum has selected the 40 greatest Wildcats players in their 40 years.

But before we go there…

Coach – Trevor Gleeson

Wildcats Career Accolades: 5x NBL Champion, 1x Coach of the Year

Now plying his trade in Toronto with the Raptors. Gleeson will go down as the greatest Wildcats’ coach of all time. His tenure is unrivalled, with his five championships from making finals in every one of his eight seasons at the club. He is the undisputed king of the jungle, and no-one can match him.

* The player is still playing with the Wildcats

** The player is still playing professionally but not with the Wildcats

Now, we move onto the top 15 greatest Wildcats of all-time.

(1) Ricky Grace

Wildcats Career Stats: 482 games played, 8,802 points, 2,027 rebounds, 3,470 assists, 734 steals, 296 blocks.

Wildcats Career Accolades: 4x NBL Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 4x All NBL First Team, No. 15 retired

‘Amazing’ Ricky Grace is no doubt the greatest Wildcat of all-time. Even though he never won an NBL MVP, there is no doubt in the minds of Wildcats fans that he is the best. First in games played, points scored, assists dished and steals taken, Grace did it all in his almost 500 game career for the Wildcats.

(2) Bryce Cotton*

Wildcats Career Stats: 152 games played, 3,380 points, 532 rebounds, 611 assists, 216 steals, seven blocks.

Wildcats Career Accolades: 3x NBL Champion, 3x NBL MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 4x All NBL First Team, 4x NBL Scoring Champion

By sheer accolades alone, you could argue that Bryce Cotton is the greatest Wildcat of all-time. The only player that has more league MVPs than Cotton is Andrew Gaze, and nobody can compete with Gaze’s seven MVPs. Cotton has been a revelation since joining Perth and his impact will never be forgotten. Now get this man his citizenship.

(3) James Crawford

Wildcats Career Stats: 371 games played, 7,588 points, 3,354 rebounds, 720 assists, 430 steals, 576 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 3x NBL Champion, 1x All NBL First Team, No. 7 retired

The ‘Alabama Slamma’ James Crawford dazzled crowds in the NBL for two decades with the Geelong SuperCats, the Canberra Cannons and most famously, the Perth Wildcats. As part of both the NBL’s 20th and 25th Anniversary teams, Crawford can be perceived as one of the most athletic players to ever grace the shores of Australia. 

(4) Andrew Vlahov

Wildcats Career Stats: 349 games played, 5,665 points, 3,068 rebounds, 1,252 assists, 635 steals, 240 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 3x NBL Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 2x All NBL First Team, NBL Rookie of the Year, No. 21 retired

Andrew Vlahov was a brick wall, an intense, loud-mouthed, defensive machine that would never let a game die. A former player and owner (with Luc Longley) of the Wildcats, Vlahov played his entire NBL career in Perth. A true legend of the game, Vlahov built the foundation of what ‘Wildcats Basketball’ is.

(5) Shawn Redhage

Wildcats Career Stats: 380 games played, 5,660 points, 2,094 rebounds, 986 assists, 250 steals, 182 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 4x NBL Champion, 2x All-NBL First Team, 3x All-NBL Second Team

He was nicknamed the “Scoring Machine” for a reason. Redhage, after being labelled a failure in New Zealand, became one of the greatest players the Wildcats has ever seen. Coming to the league as an import and ending as an Australian, Redhage finished his career as second (now third) in Wildcats games played, and fourth in Wildcats scoring.

(6) Damian Martin

Wildcats Career Stats: 310 games played, 1,964 points, 1,434 rebounds, 1,064 assists, 591 steals, 105 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 6x NBL Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 6x Defensive Player of the Year, 1x All-NBL First Team, 2x All-NBL Second Team

The greatest defender the league has ever seen, and the captain of the Wildcats 40th anniversary team. Martin is the personification of Wildcats basketball, the embodiment of being a Wildcat. ‘Damo’ can lock down anyone from Casper Ware to Kevin Durant (Google it), and he will go down as the greatest leader in Perth’s 40 year history.

(7) Scott Fisher 

Wildcats Career Stats: 247 games played, 4,301 points, 2,118 rebounds, 642 assists, 271 steals, 41 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion, No. 30 retired

Being named in their 20th and 25th anniversary teams, Fisher will go down as one of the league’s all-time greats. While it could be argued that he played his best basketball for North Melbourne, since he was a 2x League MVP, 1x Finals MVP and 1x Champion with the Giants, his impact can be seen when you look at the rafters of RAC Arena, where his number 30 is hanging.

(8) Jesse Wagstaff*

Wildcats Career Stats: 398 games played, 3,391 points, 1,375 rebounds, 458 assists, 206 steals, 72 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 6x NBL Champion, 1x Sixth Man of the Year, 1x Rookie of the Year

The ultimate sixth man, the king of taking a charge and hitting a clutch three pointer. Jesse ‘The Body’ Wagstaff has done it all in the colour red. Nearing his 400th Wildcats’ game, Wagstaff is an unheralded legend of the Perth Wildcats mainly because of his lack of ‘star power’. But he makes up that with pure ‘Wildcats basketball’.  

(9) Mike Ellis

Wildcats Career Stats: 302 games played, 3,802 points, 677 rebounds, 1,601 assists, 481 steals, 87 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion, No. 6 retired

Mike Ellis, the first Perth Wildcats’ championship winning captain. Need we say anymore? Playing in all of the clubs first 11 seasons, some of which as the Westate Wildcats, Ellis was a driving force in changing the club from ‘fat cats’ to Wildcats.

(10) Paul Rogers

Wildcats Career Stats: 192 games played, 2,906 points, 1,803 rebounds, 367 assists, 108 steals, 272 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion, 1x NBL MVP, 2x All-NBL First Team, 3x All-NBL Second Team

Paul Rogers was the first Wildcat ever to win the league’s Most Valuable Player award. His dominance in the 2000 NBL season helped lead the Wildcats to their fourth championship. While his time in the NBL would be split between Perth and Adelaide, he will always be known more as a Wildcat than a 36er.

(11) Kevin Lisch

Wildcats Career Stats: 130 games played, 1,894 points, 402 rebounds, 357 assists, 137 steals, 22 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 1x NBL Champion, 1x NBL MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 2x All-NBL First Team, 1x NBL Scoring Champion

While he went onto better things in Illawarra and Sydney, Lisch played his best in red. Winning one of his two MVPs and his only NBL Championship in Perth, Lisch is a legend of the league, but he will always be known as a Wildcats icon. 

(12) Matthew Knight

Wildcats Career Stats: 181 games played, 2,002 points, 1,173 rebounds, 234 assists, 92 steals, 108 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 3x NBL Champion, 1x All-NBL First Team, 2x All-NBL Second Team

Matthew Knight was an underrated player in his time. One of the best defenders to play for the Wildcats, Knight was part of a core group of players that drove success in Perth. While he isn’t a Crawford, Vlahov or Rogers, Knight was a key part in the Wildcats championship wins in 2010, 2014 and 2016. 

(13) Nick Kay**

Wildcats Career Stats: 68 games played, 1,038 points, 567 rebounds, 211 assists, 82 steals, 37 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion, 2x All-NBL First Team

Nick Kay, now known more for his Olympic bronze medal than his time in Perth, was a key piece of the Wildcats back-to-back championships in 2019 and 2020. Forming a lethal one-two combo with MVP Bryce Cotton, he is one of the many that helped put two banners in Perth.

(14) Cal Bruton

Wildcats Career Stats: 82 games played, 1,498 points, 266 rebounds, 392 assists, 114 steals, seven blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 1x NBL Champion (as coach)

Cal Bruton’s career was probably more impactful for his front office and coaching work in Perth than his playing career. Standing at only 5’9, Bruton was a force in the league’s early days. More of a league legend these days because of his stays in Brisbane, Geelong, and Tasmania, Bruton will always be known for turning the ship around in Perth, from easy beats to becoming the most feared team in the league.

(15) James Ennis**

Wildcats Career Stats: 33 games played, 699 points, 235 rebounds, 68 assists, 47 steals, 28 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 1x NBL Champion, 1x All-NBL First Team

James Ennis is the most skilled player to ever walk through the Bendat Basketball Centre. His one season was the greatest ‘one-and-done’ in league history before going onto bigger and better things in the NBA.

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Players 16-40 will not be given a defined ranking, but are still amongst the greatest players to ever pull on Wildcats colours.

Kendal ‘Tiny’ Pinder

Wildcats Career Stats: 162 games played, 3,102 points, 1,794 rebounds, 357 assists, 195 steals, 82 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion

Greg Hire

Wildcats Career Stats: 243 games played, 764 points, 780 rebounds, 233 assists, 73 steals, 15 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 4x NBL Champion

Eric Watterson

Wildcats Career Stats: 306 games played, 977 points, 385 rebounds, 729 assists, 214 steals, 27 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion

Martin Cattalini 

Wildcats Career Stats: 119 games played, 868 points, 397 rebounds, 72 assists, 35 steals, 29 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion

Tony Ronaldson

Wildcats Career Stats: 170 games played, 2,381 points, 979 rebounds, 459 assists, 71 steals, 33 blocks

Jermaine Beal

Wildcats Career Stats: 96 games played, 1,523 points, 235 rebounds, 307 assists, 55 steals, five blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 1x All-NBL Second Team

Steve Davis

Wildcats Career Stats: 195 games played, 1,002 points, 598 rebounds, 126 assists, 79 steals, 78 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion

Brad Robbins

Wildcats Career Stats: 177 games played, 908 points, 416 rebounds, 358 assists, 199 steals, 14 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 1x NBL Champion

Clint Steindl**

Wildcats Career Stats: 128 games played, 860 points scored, 227 rebounds, 86 assists, 48 steals, 13 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion

Terrico White**

Wildcats Career Stats: 61 games played, 966 points, 242 rebounds, 133 assists, 45 steals, five blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion, 1x Finals MVP

John Mooney**

Wildcats Career Stats: 42 games played, 710 points, 481 rebounds, 119 assists, 52 steals, 28 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 1x All-NBL First Team

Tom Jervis**

Wildcats Career Stats: 166 games played, 781 points, 621 rebounds, 140 assists, 50 steals, 128 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 3x NBL Champion, NBL Rookie of the Year

Mitch Norton*

Wildcats Career Stats: 102 games played, 796 points, 263 rebounds, 301 assists, 73 steals, three blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion

Casey Prather**

Wildcats Career Stats: 59 games played, 1,063 points, 268 rebounds, 160 assists, 84 steals, 16 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion, 1x All-NBL First Team

James Harvey

Wildcats Career Stats: 163 games played, 2,263 points, 433 rebounds, 367 assists, 78 steals, 26 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 1x NBL Champion, 1x Most Improved Player

Anthony Stewart

Wildcats Career Stats: 188 games played, 2,227 points, 592 rebounds, 570 assists, 161 steals, 21 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion

Dan Clausen

Wildcats Career Stats: 52 games played, 1,222 points, 772 rebounds, 143 assists, 73 steals, 127 blocks

Peter Crawford

Wildcats Career Stats: 166 games played, 2,288 points, 780 rebounds, 542 assists, 296 steals, 117 blocks 

Wildcats Career Accolades: 1x Most Improved Player

Ben Thompson

Wildcats Career Stats: 123 games played, 874 points, 393 rebounds, 229 assists, 60 steals, 37 blocks

Stephen Black

Wildcats Career Stats: 131 games played, 1,084 points, 253 rebounds, 323 assists, 67 steals, 12 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 1x NBL Champion, 1x Best 6th Man

Matthew Burtston

Wildcats Career Stats: 115 games played, 1,206 points scored, 755 rebounds, 76 assists, 97 steals, 82 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 1x Most Improved Played

Angus Brandt

Wildcats Career Stats: 94 games played, 741 points, 406 rebounds, 114 assists, 26 steals, 30 blocks

Wildcats Career Accolades: 2x NBL Champion

Craig Fitzsimmons 

Wildcats Career Stats: 100 games played, 1,166 points, 245 rebounds, 188 assists, 85 steals, 11 blocks

CJ Bruton

Wildcats Career Stats: 26 games played, 127 points, 39 rebounds, 39 assists, 13 steals, three blocks 

CJ Bruton is the best player ever produced by the Perth Wildcats. Even though he only played one season and he didn’t play a lot, his career in the league started in Perth and he became a legend after his short stay in Wildcats colours. 

Scott Fenton

Wildcats Career Stats: 37 games played, 160 points scored, 37 rebounds, 75 assists, 18 steals, one block

Wildcats Career Accolades: No. 14 retired

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