Mullet Mania: The Rise of Luke Travers

Luke Travers’ rise from relative un-known to genuine NBA Draft prospect has been well documented by the NBL and the Perth Wildcats in particular. However, his lack of representation in Mock Drafts and “Top 100” prospects lists by the US Media has been concerning. 

This is only because of his recent explosion onto the Australian Basketball scene. Also the lack of USA knowledge of the league and of Australian basketball in general doesn’t help.

I’m here to tell you the Story of #MulletMania and Travers growth from the junior level to Wildcats Cult Hero to Future Boomers’ Star.

The Perth Wildcats for years have lacked a real, young, ‘home grown’ talent that plays a huge role for their team. While Wani Swaka lo Bulak was at that level, he was rarely utilised by Trevor Gleeson’s Wildcats. 

But then came along Luke Travers. A relatively unknown prospect to the wider Australian Basketball Audience. He was signed up by the Cats as a Developmental Player for the 2019-2020 NBL season. 

Travers, who turned down college offers from Texas Christian University, Mississippi State and Western Kentucky to stay home and play for Perth, rarely saw court time during his first season.

Travers during the 19/20 NBL season only saw court time in Four Games for the Western Australian side, while the Cats would go on to win the championship against the Sydney Kings in the Covid Shortened Finals’ Series.

However, it would be that off-season in which everything changed. 

‘LT’ would go on to play in the West Coast Classic for the Cockburn Cougars, and in the Five games he played, he averaged 17.8 points, 14.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. These performances, along with a mammoth growth spurt would cause the Wildcats to think about the possibilities of his future.

While he is listed on Wikipedia as 6’7, he has stated that he has Grown to around 6’9 and he has only gained muscle and strength from his recent off-seasons. 

Travers would miraculously start for the Wildcats in early NBL21 at the Power Forward Position even though he plays more like a Shooting Guard or Small Forward. However, this was only out of necessity, as Perth would over rely on Bryce Cotton’s citizenship being granted to open another import spot. This would never come and the unlikely rise of Jarred Bairstow would see Travers relegated down to the Bench.

Over Travers 40 Games in NBL21, he would average just under 5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. However, this doesn’t represent Travers real impact in NBL21.

With the Wildcats injury woes near the end of the season, including a season-ending (and at the time career-threatening) injury to Star Bryce Cotton, Travers would be pushed back into the starting line-up and given more responsibilities playing positions 1 through 4 during the Wildcats last couple of regular season games and Finals.

In the 8 Games after Bryce’s Season was cut short, Travers averaged just under 10 points, just under 8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.4 blocks a night playing 24 minutes. These stand out numbers along with an incredible Semi Final Game 2 performance in Wollongong caught the eye of many spectators. 

Travers on that fateful night had a Double Double. Having 13 points, 10 rebounds (5 of which were offensive), 3 assists and a block while also guarding MVP runner-Up Tyler Harvey in the majority of the second half. 

Throughout his late season and final’s performances, Travers made NBA Franchises notice. New Perth Wildcats GM of Basketball Danny Mills, who was at the Philadelphia 76ers at the time, stated that Philly were looking at him on their draft boards for the 2021 NBA Draft.

However, Travers didn’t elect for the 21 Draft. Instead staying put with the wildcats for one more year. Now as a Fully Contracted player, which was part of his initial deal which he signed at the start of 2020.

Travers staying put for one extra season means he can develop for another year and finally get the respect he deserves in America by their basketball media. The only Aussie prospects that they care about are Mojave King (going by last season, Travers was a better prospect than he was), the Maker’s and Dyson Daniels. 

Travers doesn’t even get a look in. 

Travers needs the support of the League and the Australian Media in general, which they are giving to these International Guys and the Local Next Stars.

It may just be because he is playing for the team on the other side of the country, but Travers should be given the respect that he deserves. Regardless of whether he makes the NBA, he is a Future Boomer. 

And I’m not just talking about playing Qualifiers. He is a future Olympic Level Basketballer, and he may just be the future face of Australian basketball.

He is Potential Personified with his height, length and athleticism only adding to his pure skill which he already had as a junior. Even without his current height and the growth spurt that he had, he was playing for Australia’s Under 17’s Team, at a World Cup, as a Shooting Guard. 

Wildcats’ Legend Greg Hire stated after his performances in the World Cup “Mark My Words – Luke Travers will play NBA” on Twitter.

All of this has shown that Travers is an NBA Calibre Player. It’s just whether America believes he is.