Hungry Jack's NBL
Kevin Lisch: 30 and thriving
When Kevin Lisch was born on the 16th May 1986, he was destined to play sport. His father, “Rusty” Lisch was a standout prep player in college, and Lisch followed in his footsteps by accepting a basketball scholarship to Saint Louis University. While his father later opted to focus on football and played five NFL seasons as a quarterback, Lisch became known for his defensive prowess playing for the Bilikens. His reputation earned him a workout with the Indiana Pacers, but after missing out in the 2009 NBA Draft, Lisch signed with the Perth Wildcats and instead began a long and prosperous relationship with Australia. Joining Head Coach Rob Beveridge proved to be a successful move, with the duo delivering Perth their first national Championship for more than a decade, and Lisch taking home the Larry Sengstock Medal as Grand Final MVP in his NBL debut. The personal honour was secured with a career best 29-points in the deciding Game Three on the biggest basketball stage of the year. From 2011 - 2013, Lisch earned the club’s MVP Award three years in a row and was named as the shooting guard in the Wildcat’s all-time greatest team in their 30th anniversary. Despite a comparatively shorter stint, Lisch’s impact earned him the honour alongside NBL legends Ricky Grace, Andrew Vlahov, James Crawford and Scott Fisher. Lisch thrived under Coach Beveridge, and his mentor’s influence on the young American extended off the court too. Some clever match-making between Lisch and a Perth Lynx player, Rachel Watman – who “Bevo” had coached as a junior – saw the head coach unknowingly introduce his MVP to his future wife. They were married just ten months later, and in 2013 they left Perth together as Lisch took up contracts in France, Spain and Puerto Rico. His NBL hiatus ended last year, when Lisch returned home to team up with his former mentor, this time at the Illawarra Hawks. The Hawks went on to notch 17 wins – an impressive 11-game improvement from the Hawks’ previous season, and Lisch registered two new career-highs, averaging 19.4 points and 3.3 assists per game. Despite falling just one game short of making the Grand Final – losing to their former team Perth in Game Three - Lisch was acknowledged for his efforts with his second NBL MVP trophy. He was quick to thank Beveridge for his leadership. “Bevo has been a great mentor for me. He gave me my first job, gave me my only wife and he’s been very influential in my career,” he said at the ceremony. He also took home the 2016 Best Defensive Player of the Year Award, and consolidated himself as the NBL’s hottest property in the free agency when he was granted citizenship in March. Marking a major milestone this year, the Australian citizen turns 30 with a new club and a new challenge. The Sydney Kings swooped in early, offering a lucrative three-year contract enough to convince the reigning MVP to head north and try improve on the King’s disappointing 6-22 record of last season. In an attempt to revive the underperforming franchise, Lisch’s recruitment went hand-in-hand with Andrew Gaze’s appointment as head coach – who will be hoping to emulate his fathers’ coaching success. Meanwhile, Lisch will suit up in the NBL for the first time in his career without the direction of his trusted mentor. A challenge that Beveridge has no doubt equipped him for.