More than just a holiday for US star Scottie Wilbekin
THE first thing star new signing Scottie Wilbekin did at the Cairns Taipans was ask for a key to the gym.
Wilbekin is certainly not in Australia for a holiday, despite the 21-year-old boasting an already golden resume.
The 188cm point guard finished his senior year with the Florida Gators as the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.
That saw him earn his place alongside previous winners and NBA legends Pete Maravich (1968-70), Charles Barkley (1984) and Shaquille O'Neal (1991, 1992).
Wilbekin averaged 13.1 points, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game in 2013/14, while converting 39% from long range, as his Gators went undefeated (18-0) in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball.
Wilbekin (pictured) saw NCAA tournament action in all four years at the high-profile Gators program, reaching the Elite 8 every year, and the Final Four in March.
It is no wonder then that Taipans officials view his signing as one of their most significant coups.
But Wilbekin is all about hard work first, as Cairns staff found out as soon as they greeted them, after he stepped off the plane and asked where the gym was.
"I'm always trying to get better. I love working in the gym and working on my game," Wilbekin told APN.
"I'm very motivated to do well out here - I want to win a championship.
"I'm very honoured with what I've achieved at college level, but I've put all that behind me now."
Taipans coach Aaron Fearne said he expected Wilbekin would be a leader on the floor, and "make big plays every night".
The prospect of seeing Wilbekin join 2014 club MVP Cameron Gliddon in the Snakes backcourt will have fans salivating, according to Fearne.
And Wilbekin won't mind the added responsibility - he's played in front of the most rabid basketball crowds imaginable.
"We made the Final Four last college season and played in front of 70,000 people at the Dallas Cowboys' home stadium," he said.
To complement Wilbekin's signing at the north Queensland franchise will be former University of South Carolina Upstate star, Torrey Craig.
The 198cm small forward recently completed his senior year as USC Upstate's career leader in rebounds (944), and was the second-ranked scorer (2128 points).