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Sky’s the Limit for Perth’s Flight 23

Perth Wildcats swingman Casey Prather has arrived. Having spent the early parts of his first NBL season getting to know new team mates and managing a niggling knee injury, Prather has turned heads recently with his improved play. Across Perth’s last three games – all wins – Prather is averaging 21.3 points at an impressive 67 per cent shooting from the field. “I’ve been feeling really good,” he said when asked about his recent form. “I’m just being aggressive and taking the shots the defence gives me. That’s helped me to get into a groove which has been fun.” Prather was a key difference-maker in the Wildcats’ win over New Zealand on the weekend, notching up 18 points and five rebounds on 7/8 shooting from the field. He put 26 points, 8 boards and 5 dimes on Cairns the game prior – a narrow win in which his speed, athleticism and cool head were influential down the stretch. However it was against Adelaide in Round 7 where Prather’s recent spike in form began. He scored 20 points on 9/11 shooting that night, operating in attack-mode for much of the evening. In fact, it was clear right from the opening tip against the 36ers that the athletic wing meant business: [ooyala code="trbGg3eTq8FBuP-hCG2DZEXpWd1cOvj6" player_id="d5b993422b3e4b5ebd61f9e19ca2a6a5" width="1280" height="720" auto="true"] Prather admits to approaching that game with something of a fresh mindset. “I had a different mentality that night as far as being more aggressive and trying to create more for myself and my team-mates and that’s how I’ve been going into games ever since,” he said. Perth head coach Trevor Gleeson has been pleased to see the real Casey Prather standing up over the past couple of weeks. “We knew what he had in store, it just got delayed a little due to that knee issue,” Gleeson explained. “It’s great now that he’s getting in rhythm with his team-mates and he’s finding his spots in the offense where he can be aggressive.” Gleeson believes adjusting his game to the style and flow of the NBL has been a learning process for Prather. “He played last year in the D-League and that can sometimes become a bit of standing around outside the three-point line and waiting for the ball,” said Gleeson. “How we play is different to the American style and it‘s just taken him a few games to start moving more without the ball. That’s happening now.” What’s also happening is the unwrapping of Flight 23’s exciting open-court game. His breakaway dunk on Friday night provided some early excitement for the passionate Perth faithful and helped propel the Wildcats to a double-digit half-time lead. Since graduating from college, Prather has been told by numerous NBA GMs to develop his outside shot in order to advance his professional career. While in W.A. he’s doing exactly that. Thus far he has connected on 40 percent of his three-point attempts (two per game) as a Wildcat. Sure, they’ve mainly been wide open looks, but the fact remains: Prather is shooting a better clip from long range than highly-regarded sharp-shooters like Clint Steindl (Townsville), Adam Gibson (Adelaide), Chris Goulding (Melbourne) and team-mate Jermaine Beal. “I’ve been working really hard at it so for that to be paying off and to be getting results, that’s a great feeling,” Prather said. Gleeson believes Prather’s shooting mechanics are sound and that, with work, he could potentially turn a perceived weakness into a strength. “He can shoot the ball, now it’s just about getting the repetition and being selective about taking good shots,” Gleeson said. “We can see how good he can be. I don’t think he knows how good he can be himself yet, that’s still a professional discovery for him.” The Perth Wildcats are officially up and about, winners of three straight games and five of their last six. All of a sudden they’re breathing heavily down Melbourne United’s neck at the top of the standings. Leading the way over these past few weeks has been Prather, much to his head coach’s delight. “Casey’s got the ability to be a very, very good player,” Gleeson said. “He’s not there yet but he’s working towards being that and it should be a fun journey with him.”  
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