Travers leaves Rockingham Flames as Cockburn Cougars pounce on young star

Stuart HortonSound Telegraph
Luke Travers has signed with Cockburn for 2020.
Camera IconLuke Travers has signed with Cockburn for 2020. Credit: Stuart Horton

The Rockingham Flames will scour the country for “the best available Australian player” after losing homegrown teen star Luke Travers to the Cockburn Cougars.

The talented 18-year-old will wear colours other than the Flames’ for the first time in his basketball career after deciding to follow former Flames assistant coach Andrew Cooper, recently appointed Cougars men’s coach, to Wally Hagan Stadium in 2020.

Flames men’s coach Ryan Petrik said a lot of people at the club would be disappointed with Travers’ decision to leave, but said he understood the young wing had to look after his own career, and preferred to view it as an opportunity to bring in a gun replacement rather than lament his loss.

“Our preference was obviously to keep LT but it now opens up our team list,” he said.

“We’ve got an Aussie spot to fill and we can go and hunt the country for the best available Aussie; when one door closes another one opens. We move on and we’ll find someone who wants to play in front of our crowds.

“It’s his career, he’s entitled to make his decisions and if Cockburn have put an offer on the table for him too good to refuse, he should go. It’s his livelihood, I don’t begrudge him making the decision he thinks is best for him.

“But the club, the volunteers and the players, who have all put in the work to help him get where he is and then see him leave at the very first chance, I understand their frustration.”

The Flames are keen to re-sign Josh Ritchart.
Camera IconThe Flames are keen to re-sign Josh Ritchart. Credit: Stuart Horton

The Flames already have a like-for-like replacement in Travis Durnin, who has committed to the club following impressive back-to-back campaigns with the South West Slammers and Mandurah.

While the 200cm wing is not a direct replacement for Travers, the 2018 SBL Most Improved Player can fill a similar role given the likenesses in the pair’s games.

“(Travis) wasn’t designed as a direct replacement but it’s good insurance now LT’s chosen to go that we’ve got one long wing at the club,” Petrik said.

The club is also keen to bring back US big man Josh Ritchart, but that move could hinge on whether he secures a contract in the G-League.

“Our priorities are Ritchart, LT’s replacement and a third import, in that order,” Petrik said.

“We think, when healthy, Ritchart is the best big in the league...we really want him back and he really wants to come back. We’re working with his agent and waiting on what he does next.

“There are no guarantees. Whether he goes to the G-League or not drastically changes when he becomes available and what we’ll do.”

The Flames have also re-signed captain Ryan Godfrey and brothers Justin, Kyle and Callum Beard for 2020.

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