Perth Wildcat Rhys Vague is living out a basketball dream forged from backyard competitions with his brother.
STEPPING on the court for his very first game of basketball at the tender age of seven, Rhys Vague would have had few people outside his parents and older brother cheering for him.
These days, the 22-yearold Perth Wildcat regularly takes to the court to the bellowing of more than 15,000 raucous and passionate ‘red army’ supporters.
Putting on the red jersey and playing alongside the likes of Damian Martin, Greg Hire and gun import Bryce Cotton was never really something Vague believed could happen in his early years.
He said back then his main goal had just been to be better than his brother.
“He’d like to say it was always a competition but I feel like I was better from day dot,” he laughed.
“I’m the biggest in the family so it was probably when I was about 12 and he was about 16 that I was better and there was no looking back after that.
“I always played pretty well in my age group and I took it seriously the whole way through until about under-16s when I made my first state team and I thought I can maybe do something here and have the potential to become professional.”
Vague plied his trade from the under-10 competition through to senior basketball, first at the Spearwood Hawks Junior Basketball Club, then as part of the Cockburn Cougars junior program before SBL stints at the Cougars, East Perth Eagles and Stirling Senators.
In 2014, he was placed on the Wildcats’ development list.
Four years of hard work later, Vague put pen to paper on a two-year contract that saw him promoted to the senior Wildcats list.
He said he loved the sport because it gave young players with a dream and the determination to work hard a chance to play on the big stage.
“I was ecstatic the first year I was picked as a development player but then I didn’t know how good it would feel to be an actual contracted player,” he said.
“It was a bit of a pinch myself moment.
“I hope young kids see that it’s possible.”
Wildcat Rhys Vague’s advice to young people on making it to the NBL: “It’s crazy hard work to get here but if I can do it, they can do it; nothing is out of the realm of possibility for them.”