After playing all his junior basketball for the Warwick Senators and feeling he’d run into a brick wall developmentally, 2020 brought a change of colours and a welcome change of scenery for athletic wing Michael Riley:
“With CJ as the head coach and with everything the club is doing, I really enjoyed the development side of things in 2020. It was good to feel like I was learning again and the environment at Redbacks really helped me personally.
CJ is incredibly infectious with the way he coaches and Redbacks is a club where you feel more embraced and like they have more time for you. It’s a very family-oriented club where everyone has your back and is willing to help out anyone who needs it. It’s just a good environment to be around really.”
Head Coach CJ Jackson was excited to have Michael come over from Warwick in 2020, and is thrilled he’s sticking around for 2021 and beyond:
“I’ve known Michael since he was playing U12s for Warwick. U14s, U16s, he was always one who was throwing a couple of daggers because he can hit that long-range shot. But he also hustles his butt off and I love how fully committed he is to Redbacks both on the court and off the court coaching our junior WABL kids. It’s just great to have him as part of the club and I foresee that he should be able to go on and become a 250-game player for the club.”
NBL1 Director Nathan Barns is similarly excited:
“Michael is an athlete – he would be close to having the biggest vertical jump of anyone at the Redbacks. With a strong preseason ahead we are excited to see what he will bring to us next year as we see him transitioning into a larger role within our NBL1 team. He’s a great team player who now bleeds Redbacks.”
Michael can’t wait to see what the group from 2020 (who have all re-signed for 2021) can do at NBL1 level:
“We had a very new team and there were only a couple of guys here I knew previously. But we are now all pretty good mates outside of basketball and we are all excited to be at the Redbacks. Everyone is happy with the way things are going, everyone is getting an opportunity, so you can’t complain really.”
He’s also looking forward to seeing what doors NBL1 opens for the up and coming young players in the league like him:
“Next year is going to be interesting as we all work out how it all operates, but the potential for increased exposure is very exciting and I’m just eager to see how it all plays out. I think it will be great for basketball in WA and Australia in general.
With regard to personal aspirations, I do want to try and see where I can go beyond NBL1 level, but right now it’s just a great development league for me, especially having CJ as coach. The fact that you have a coach who has your back really helps your confidence as a player. I’ve never had a coach like that who has that complete trust in his players and just lets you go out and play, and show what you can do. That’s a new and great experience for me to be honest.”