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Josh Wilcher says it was an easy decision to re-sign for Plymouth Raiders, as he aims to help the club improve upon the disappointment of recent campaigns.
For the second season in a row, the club missed out on the playoffs, and Wilcher is determined to make sure there will not be another repeat.
“Not making the playoffs was hard, but it gives the club and myself extra motivation for next season now,” he said. “The biggest aim for next season would be to bring some success back to Plymouth, making finals and pushing for a top 6 finish.
“That would be great for us, but we have to put in a lot of hard work to get there.”
The Aussie-born guard is the first confirmed signing ahead of next season, although there are a number of players on multi-year deals that will also be back at their respective teams. And Wilcher admits his mind had been set on returning for some time.
“I’m very pleased to sign with Plymouth again,” he said. “It was a pretty easy decision for me as I really enjoyed my time here and I am comfortable with the thought of coming back for another season.
“Pretty early on I knew that I wanted to come back. I love the atmosphere of playing at the Pavillions and the fans that we have in Plymouth.”
Once again, Raiders Head Coach Jay Marriott seems set on finalising his roster early having brought back British duo Nick George and Louis Sayers at a similar time last season.
Wilcher joined the club back in May last year, as the reigning EBL (now NBL) Division 1 Player of the Year, and has been pleased with the way he’s stepped up to the top-flight; taking his game to the next level.
The 24-year-old logged heavy minutes throughout the season, playing 35+ minutes in a game in all but four league appearances, despite battling a few niggling injuries along the way.
“I was very determined to come in and have an impact,” he said. “Obviously when you come up a level, people will always have question marks on how you will go, but I felt like I adjusted well to life in the BBL and ended up having a pretty good season personally.
“Next to every team has an import point guard who has a high profile background from the States, so it makes me have to be a lot better going up against them every week,” he added. “The point guard position in this league is very tough so it’s fun to try and hold my own against them week in, week out.”
Despite being recognised as one of the top point guards in the league, Wilcher feels that there is still room for improvement and has targeted the consistency of his shot and overall quickness, in order to better keep pace with the speedy guards in the BBL, as the main areas
In 36 games, Wilcher averaged 13.9 points and an impressive 6.9 assists per game with no other player in the league reaching 500 points and 200+ assists. The 5’10” point guard scored a season-high 26 points against Sheffield Sharks in November and dished out 17 assists in a single game, a few weeks later.
“I see that as my main role,” he said of his high assist numbers, 250 in total. “Obviously being a point guard a lot of the time it’s about getting your team-mates the right shots at the right times.
“I would have liked to win more games this season, but for me I was happy with the way I contributed. I was just trying to find a solid consistency throughout the year and I think I found that. I’m really excited to continue it all over to next season.”
Raiders play-caller Marriott has been full of praise for his starting point guard ever since bringing him to Devon at the beginning of last summer. And the opportunity to be a central part of the club’s future was a major selling point for the Melbourne native.
“It’s pleasing to be signed up, and knowing that I’m in the plans for the club going forward really means a lot to me,” Wilcher said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time in Plymouth; I’ve got to meet some great people and some very passionate fans.
“Playing for Jay (Marriott) has been fun. Jay and I have a good relationship on and off the court and he has shown a lot of faith in me this season, which is all I could ask for.”
Plymouth had plenty of weapons at their disposal alongside Wilcher this season, with their final roster featuring the league’s leading points per game scorer, Pierre Hampton, last season’s top points scorer in Brent Benson, the January Player of the Month Jordan Clarke as well as two GB internationals, Ben Mockford and Gareth Murray.
However, it just didn’t work out once again for the Raiders. They finished 10th with an 11-25 record and leaked the most points on average in their 11 seasons in the BBL; conceding 91.8 points per game. And Wilcher believes his side were left to rue a lack of consistency.
“We felt we could mix it with the top teams in the league, but would often have a poor stretch of 3-5 minutes were we would ultimately lose the game,” he said. “The consistency of our team was probably, for me, the most disappointing.”
Wilcher will return to his native Australia for the summer and play in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) with Bendigo Braves in the hope of keeping in good shape for his second season with the Raiders.
Check out his season highlights below:
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