UCSB’s Rillie departs to become Perth Wildcats Head Coach in his native Australia

Australian Boomers Olympic medal-winning assistant John Rillie is officially the next head coach of the Perth Wildcats.

Rillie joined Wildcats executives at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas today, where he agreed to join Australia’s most successful basketball franchise on a three-year contract.

The Australian basketball great brings three decades of elite experience to Perth, both as a championship-winning player and high-level coach.

He’s thrilled to be returning to Australia for his first opportunity as a head coach.

“For my first head coaching position, I wanted to pick a situation that was right for me. With Perth’s history and reputation, not just in the NBL, but in the Australian sporting landscape – it was like a magnet to me. I’m really excited, and I know we’re going to get great fan support from day one,” he said.

“As a coach, I strongly believe you have to enjoy what you’re doing to be successful. You have to be professional, you have to take a hard-working approach, but if you’re not enjoying it and you’re not enjoying your teammates’ success, it’s going to be hard to have a successful year. So, we’re going to work hard, we’re going to get after it, but I’m going to make sure our team enjoys what we’re doing, and I think the crowd will see that.

“I want to play an attractive, opportunistic style offensively, but to play that way we’re going to have to be an aggressive defensive team. The mindset I had as a player, I’ll be looking to adopt that as a coach on the offensive end, but I’ll be striving to make us one of the top one or two defensive teams statistically in the NBL.”

After retiring as a player in 2010, John Rillie has spent more than a decade developing his coaching craft in the US college system.

He joins the Wildcats from UC Santa Barbara, where he’s held the position of associate head coach of their men’s program since 2018.

In that time, he’s helped lead the Guachos to the Big West Conference championship, the Big West Tournament championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Prior to arriving in California, Rillie spent six years at Boise State University as an assistant coach, where he helped lead BSU to six 20-plus win seasons and NCAA Tournament berths in 2012 and 2014.

“John has high-level experience as both a player and a coach, he’s an incredible basketball mind, a workaholic, and someone who has relationships all over the globe with players, coaches and administrators. He’s been around the game a long time and waiting for his opportunity,” said Perth Wildcats GM of basketball operations, Danny Mills.

“He’s had a lot of success at the collegiate level and a lot of success with the Australian Boomers team, and I truly believe he’s ready to step into the role of head coach of the Perth Wildcats.”

As a player, John Rillie had an outstanding career, playing 481 NBL games from 1995 to 2010; named NBL Rookie of the Year in 1995, winning a championship in 1998 and named to the All-NBL First Team in 2004.

Known for his three-point shooting and prolific scoring, Rillie had two 45-point games and broke Wildcats fans hearts with 10 triples to end Perth’s 2009 Finals campaign while playing under Trevor Gleeson at Townsville.

He was a part of the Australian Boomers program from 1997 to 2004, representing his country at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

17 years later, Rillie returned to the Olympics as part of Brian Goorjian’s coaching staff for the 2020 Tokyo Games, where he helped lead the Boomers to its first Olympic medal.

John Rillie succeeds Scott Morrison as head coach of the Perth Wildcats, who resigned for family reasons last month.

He becomes the club’s 15th head coach in its storied 40-year history.


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