Basketball: Boomer Mitch Norton joins ranks at Perth Wildcats

Mitch Norton playing for Australia at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images
Mitch Norton playing for Australia at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

PERTH Wildcats have signed former Townsville and Illawarra point guard Mitch Norton on a three-year contract.

Norton already has 166 games of NBL experience despite being just 25 years old, beginning his career with the Townsville Crocodiles in 2011 as a development player.

Norton went on to captain the Crocs before moving to Illawarra Hawks, where he was their starting point guard for two seasons.

In 50 games for Illawarra, he averaged 8 points at 44 per cent from the field, plus 2.7 assists and 0.9 steals per game.

He said the Wildcats playing group, and in particular captain Damian Martin, were big factors in making his decision to sign.

“It’s the group of guys there. Damian Martin has been the best defensive player for what seems like the last decade, so to go up against him at training every day is only going to help me offensively. I’ve always wanted to spend a couple of seasons of my career playing with him,” Norton said.

“In the Commonwealth Games, I really enjoyed having another guy out there getting after the ball in the same way that I do. It should be pretty scary for other teams.

“My style of game is to be aggressive defensively, and offensively I like to attack the basket and to create, which is something I think I’ll be able to do really well in Perth.”

Coach Trevor Gleeson said Norton would bring elements of youth and toughness to the Wildcats.

“When he plays, he’s always one of the hardest guys out there playing. He doesn’t take a possession off, he puts his nose down and gets after it. He has those characteristics that you just can’t teach,” Gleeson said.

“He and Damian Martin playing together are going to cause headaches for opposition guards with full court pressure.

“But he’s also turning into two-way player. He’s a great defender but he can score. He has the ability to get to the rim and be aggressive, and that’s what we want him to do.

“We’re looking forward to developing his game. Mitch is going to be a big part of our program moving forward.”

Norton was a part of the gold medal-winning Australian Boomers team at the recent Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, alongside his new teammates Martin, Angus Brandt, Jesse Wagstaff and other new recruit Nick Kay.

Norton joins the growing Perth Wildcats 2018-19 roster which now includes Martin, Brandt, Wagstaff, Kay, Clint Steindl and Rhys Vague.

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