With WA’s State Basketball League (SBL) joining the NBL1 family in 2021 as NBL1 West, we’ve had two main priorities as a club over the past two months.
The first has been to re-sign the players on both the women’s and men’s side whose collective brand of competitive and entertaining basketball filled the stands at Belmont every week and saw us go undefeated at home during the 2020 West Coast Classic (WCC) season.
The second has been to strengthen those existing rosters with a few key pieces to help us elevate from our outstanding showing during the WCC.
We’re excited to share that we’ve now almost completed our rosters for 2021 and over the coming weeks will be sharing those signings with you. Today, we’re delighted to announce that both our captains – Jess Jakens and Joel Wagner – will be back in 2021!
ON THEIR DECISION TO RE-SIGN
Jess: “It was an easy decision for me. This place is my home, these people are my family, and we are building something really great in this club right from a board and management level all the way to down to our NBL1 and WABL teams. I’m excited to continue to be part of that.”
Joel: “Life has changed a bit in the last 12 months for sure. In addition to having two young kids, I’m working full-time as well, so the additional time commitment involved in an NBL1 season makes things tricky for our family. But at the end of the day I committed to a season in 2020 that didn’t really end up being a full season so when I talked to my wife Katie about it, I was able to say that season didn’t truly count so I had to commit to 2021! I’m super excited to be coming back and it wasn’t a hard decision at the end of the day.”
THOUGHTS ON SBL BECOMING NBL1 WEST
Jess: “I think it’s going to be really exciting for WA basketball especially for our young kids who will have an opportunity to be seen a lot more across the country. Hopefully, that helps provide more of a platform to be seen by a lot more people and we can already see in the WNBL hub how many SBL players we have represented there. This will only make our competition stronger and I’m really excited to be part of it.”
Joel: “I’m excited to see what the extra resources and exposure can do for our Western Australian players. The SBL competition has always been a great product and now many more people are going to be able to see that product. Additionally, we’ve seen a lot of guys previously go over east to try and get their name on the map but hopefully now they feel comfortable staying home in WA in a really good competition that gives them the exposure they need to go to the next level.”
WHAT THEIR COACHES HAVE TO SAY
Craig Allen on Jess Jakens: “She is just the heart and soul of our club and our group. She is a very valuable and important member of the team and not just as a leader. Jess is actually coming off what I think has been her best year this past season – the dynamic of her working with Maddie took the group to the next level. Before coaching Jess, I always knew her work ethic was high what blew me away was seeing her influence on the group as a whole. I can’t wait to see where that unique combination of work ethic, value to the group and performance on the court helps take our team in 2021.”
CJ Jackson on Joel Wagner: “He brings captaincy, reliability and is a real steadier for our team. And he’s not slowing down any as he gets older as shown by the fact that he won our Most Reliable, Most Assists and Best Defensive Player awards for the West Coast Classic season. The biggest endorsement for me and what this team is capable of is that it took a lot of convincing for Wags to play the 2020 season due to a lot of factors. But now looking to 2021, he was quick to sign on and for us to have him locked away along with 15 other players already is something I’m just so happy about because they have all bought into the culture. Wags drives a lot of that culture and for me, if Wags is happy then I am happy!”
NATHAN BARNS, NBL1 DIRECTOR ON JESS AND JOEL
“One word sums up both Jess and Joel and that is ‘Respect’. The playing group on both sides respect their captains. They bring determination, fairness and fight to every game. This flows to the whole playing group. In many of our discussions about 2021, the comment was, “if the captain is back, then I am back”. That level of respect is earnt through what they bring to the Redbacks, both on and off the court.”