Perth Wildcats Welcome Dontae Russo-Nance
The Perth Wildcats are thrilled to announce the signing of New Zealand teenage talent Dontae Russo-Nance on a three-year deal.
The deal will see Russo-Nance signed as a development player for the 2023/24 season, before being elevated to the main roster for the following two seasons.
18-year-old Russo-Nance played in the NZNBL last year for the Auckland Tuatara, winning Youth Player of the Year after averaging 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.8 steals in 16 games.
Earlier in the year, he was selected as one of 40 top international prospects from around the world to compete in the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in Salt Lake City, which took place during the famed NBA All-Star 2023 weekend.
The six-foot-three point guard is currently finishing his high school year at the Oak Hill Academy in the United States, a prestigious school that has produced multiple NBA stars including Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Rajon Rondo.
Russo-Nance said he is excited for the opportunity to join the Wildcats and learn from the team’s veterans.
“It feels great to be closer to home and I’m just really excited to get it going,” he said.
“Perth is a really professional club who have had a lot of success and have been great for many years and I’m ready to get started and win with them.
“I feel like I’ll bring some youth to the team, there are a few veterans on the roster and I just want to work with the older guys like Corey (Webster), Tai (Webster) and Bryce (Cotton) and just be a sponge and learn from them.”
Perth Wildcats head coach John Rillie said Russo-Nance will have an immediate and competitive impact at the NBL level.
“Dontae is a young and exciting prospect coming out of New Zealand, and I was familiar with him from my time in the USA and the college system,” he said.
“He’s a strong combo guard who has already had good success in the NZNBL, and teaming up with Ben Henshall, the Wildcats future backcourt will have the opportunity to learn from the likes of Bryce Cotton and the Webster brothers.
“He can score in multiple ways, while also having the ability to play-make for his teammates, he has the physical tools to compete at the NBL level from day one.”
Perth Wildcats General Manager of Basketball Operations Danny Mills said Russo-Nance is a significant piece of the roster going forward.
“As a club, we couldn’t be more excited to announce the signing on Dontae, and we welcome both him and his parents into the Wildcats family to start what we all believe will be a long and successful pro career,” he said.
“As one of the most talented guards in the world for his age, his development under the guidance of our Wildcats player development and performance staff will elevate his game to the next level.
“As we continue to build our roster for now and into the future, Dontae is an integral part of the long-term vision of the club.”