Written for nbl.com.au by Liam Santamaria
Brooklyn Nets forward Mitch Creek is all in on the man who will replace him in the Adelaide 36ers line-up this season.
Creek, who is currently in the States preparing for training camp with the Nets, told NBL Media recently that he expects Adelaide recruit Jacob Wiley to be a standout performer this season.
“I think he’ll be a fantastic asset, not just for Adelaide, but for the league,” Creek said.
“He plays a style that’s just hard-nosed and relentless. He’s patient but he doesn’t hold back and with the physical attributes that he has, once he fully understands Joey’s system, he’ll be a fantastic NBL player.”
Creek played with Wiley at the NBA Summer League earlier this year and was influential in helping to recruit him to the 36ers.
With Creek advancing his career overseas, he and Adelaide head coach Joey Wright were in constant conversation throughout the off-season about potential replacements.
The 2018 NBL Fans MVP then kept an eye out during his various workouts with NBA teams, with Wright giving him clear instructions on what he was looking for.
“Joey said, ‘I want someone that’s just you basically,’” Creek recalled.
“My first joke was, ‘Good luck, have fun’ and we kind of laughed about it. But then I got to know Jake – he was playing hard and playing all the positions – and I knew straight away he was going to be a great fit.”
Undrafted in 2017, Wiley was on a two-way contract with Brooklyn last year that saw him split time with the Nets and their G-League affiliate, Long Island.
After being waived by Brooklyn midway through the season, the versatile forward took up a contract with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany’s Basketball Bundesliga.
He then returned to the States during the off-season to play for Dallas in Las Vegas, where he suited up alongside Creek.
Impressed with his versatility, motor and poise, Creek describes Wiley as a patient and mature player.
But it was off the floor where the American most impressed the Aussie star. Having both played in Germany earlier this year, the two connected over common ground and Creek was taken by Wiley’s genuine interest in his own journey to the NBA.
“Straight away I knew he was cut from a different cloth,” Creek said.
“I told Joey ‘I have someone who will fit there perfectly.’ I told him I had his number and that I’d send it to him and Joey was like, ‘Who is it? I’m actually looking at a guy in your team.’
“Then as I sent Jake’s contact through Joey said, ‘I’m looking at Jake Wiley.’ We were both on the same page.”
Wiley has all the tools to be an impact player in the NBL, Creek says, and is the type of player who will excel in Adelaide’s fast-paced system.
Wiley plays with an extremely high motor and can do a bunch of things on the floor (sound familiar?). His length and athleticism will be a problem for smaller defenders while his quickness and range will make it difficult for bigs trying to guard him, espcially in pick-and-pop situations.
Prior to heading to the States Creek spent a bunch of time mentoring Wiley on the intricacies of Joey Wright basketball.
“Just telling him where the reads are, the slips, and the baskets you can get each game in Joey’s system by not having to do anything basketball-wise, just actually being a little bit smarter and more aware,” Creek explained.
“When he puts those things together he is going to be an animal. I mean, he rebounds, he’s athletic, he’s strong, he can shoot, he can put it on the deck and he can pass. He has all the tools.”
Wiley and the 36ers will test themselves against Melbourne, Sydney and Perth this week at the NBL’s official pre-season tournament, the Blitz.
Their first game will be against United this Thursday in Bendigo, Victoria, at 5:30pm local time, before heading to Ballarat to take on the Kings (Saturday at 3:00pm) and the Wildcats (Sunday at 3:30pm).
To buy tickets or for more information about the Blitz, go to www.nbl.com.au/blitz