THE incredible competitive heart that has made Shawn Redhage an Australian basketball great is still burning strong and that desire to be part of a team environment once more is what’s driving him on as he joins the Perry Lakes Hawks for the rest of the 2019 SBL season.
The Hawks are already the defending champions in the Men’s SBL and now having already added Perth Wildcats NBL championship winner Clint Steindl, the addition of Redhage has Matt Parsons’ team taking stock as the team to beat again in 2019.
Redhage has spent the last two years playing in the SBL at the Perth Redbacks after retiring from the NBL at the conclusion of the 2016/17 season having helped the Wildcats to a fourth championship in his 380-game career in Perth.
He was a standout the past two years with the Redbacks helping them to the 2017 championship and now the 38-year-old forward will look to have a significant impact at the Hawks with his body still defying his age.
Redhage wasn’t sure coming into the 2019 SBL season if he was willing or able to commit to a full campaign so he took a wait and see approach on how things played out and also how his Redhage Basketball business that revolves around coaching junior players continued to grow.
When someone is as good as Redhage is and has his reputation, it’s no surprise the Hawks weren’t the only club chasing his services but in the end the whole package of what they provide on and off the court got them over the line.
“I wasn’t sure coming into the season about playing again or not. Things were getting busy with the new business and everything so I wasn’t sure about playing, but as the weeks went on I was getting the itch to play,” Redhage said.
“In the end, I spoke to a couple of different clubs but I live in the Perry Lakes area, I was teammates with Matt Parsons in Bendigo and I obviously know Ben Purser and Robbie Cassir, and some of the other guys through Wildcats days and other things.
“There was some alignment there and they lost Lochie Cummings to the New Zealand which meant a spot opened up and everything fit in nicely. Then living pretty close to Perry Lakes meant there was a lot of things to like about joining the club.”
The fact that Redhage was a teammate of Perry Lakes coach Matt Parsons way back in 2005 in Bendigo was also a factor as was the fact that he has spent time over the years with the likes of Ben Purser, Rob Cassir and even Steindl.
Even Perry Lakes women’s coach Deanna Black was in Bendigo back in 2005 when Redhage was there.
When you add in that chemistry that Redhage is sure he’ll be able to quickly build with the Hawks on the court and with the advantages of him living close by, knowing Bendat Basketball Centre so well from his Wildcats days and a whole range of factors all made it the right move for him.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the guys there and what they’ve been able to build over the last couple of years,” he said.
“I’ve been able to see that firsthand from playing against them and now it’s exciting to be part of it.
“Obviously they’ve signed Clint Steindl this season so there’s a lot of talent on the team, but just judging on my first training session it feels like they’ve got a good group of guys. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
The competitive drive was behind everything that Redhage accomplished during his professional basketball career when he was guaranteed nothing upon the conclusion of college career at Arizona State University.
He had standout SEABL seasons to begin his life overseas at the North West Tasmanian Thunder and then Bendigo Braves, but his first foray into the NBL lasted just 13 games at the New Zealand Breakers before he was shown the door in favour of Marcus Timmons.
But Redhage shook that off and once he got to Perth for the 2004/05 season with the Wildcats, he was not going to let another chance in the NBL slip.
By the time he retired following the championship triumph in 2017, Redhage had gone on to play 380 games with the Wildcats while winning the four titles and joining Ricky Grace with six club MVP awards.
He remains second in games played, third in field goals made and offensive rebounds, fourth in points scored, assists and rebounds, and fifth in blocked shots and defensive rebounds in the storied history of the Wildcats.
But not content with that, he threw himself into the SBL at the Redbacks immediately the past two years where he put up 22.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game while shooting at an outstanding 53.4 per cent.
He continues to be on court every day with his work through Redhage Basketball so is in great shape and is ready to go immediately with the Hawks starting with a home double-header this weekend against the Rockingham Flames on Friday and the Goldfields Giants on Saturday.
Despite being an Olympian, four-time NBL championship winner, six-time Wildcats MVP and a sure fire Basketball Australia Hall of Famer, Redhage still has that competitive drive to still compete and still be part of that team environment.
“I just love the game. It started when I was playing in Year 2 and you still love playing the game,” Redhage said.
“Just speaking to a lot of players who are retired and not playing anymore, they all say they wish they were still playing if their body is able to get out there and run around with the young guys to still play at a decent level.
“While that’s the case with me, then why not and I’m still excited to be part of that team environment as well. That’s something that you lose when you’re not playing and it’s something you crave when you’ve had it your whole life.
“That’s something that I’ve always loved about being part of a team sport as well so you can all come together for a common goal. That’s something that really can’t be replicated in any other parts of your life.”