He’s not hiding from it. In fact, he’s embracing it. By his own admission, Jesse Wagstaff may the biggest nerd in the NBL.
“Yeah. I am a bit of a nerd,” he admits. “I’ve got a degree in Civil Engineering, a Masters in Business Administration and I started my Masters in Traffic Engineering this year.”
“It gives me something off the court to do, something to fall back on.”
In true “nerd” fashion, he doesn’t mention that he graduated College with a 4.0 GPA and completed his MBA with distinctions.
“I worked part-time last season at an engineering firm. It was busy, but once you get into the routine, you get used to it.
“You know what they say – if you want something done, ask a busy person!”
Wagstaff certainly has his hands full. In between chasing his second championship and a demanding post-graduate schedule, he’s also planning a wedding.
“I proposed the Christmas before last. On Christmas – so I could remember the date,” he jokes.
The Canberra-born Wagstaff met his fiancé Stephanie when he attended Metropolitan State in Colorado. They both played College basketball.
“I dragged her back here with me, but the wedding will be back in Denver. We’ve already booked the date for next year. She has got a big family whereas mine is fairly small so I lost that battle pretty early on. I was never going to win that one.”
“I’ve already promised her that when it’s all finished we’ll live in Colorado. I’ve spent time there, I don’t mind it. She’s slowly coming round to liking Australia, though.”
Stephanie might be waiting a while to get back to her hometown permanently. Wagstaff has eyes on a Championship win with the Wildcats and being part of a new NBL dynasty.
“We’ve secured the minor premiership which is huge, and that obviously means home court advantage. I’m just hoping we can continue it on.”
“The season seems long when you’re actually in it, playing. But then the finals sneak up on you and you wonder where all the time went.”
It would be a second Championship ring for Wagstaff after tasting finals success in his rookie season alongside current teammates Damian Martin and Shawn Redhage.
This year there are a couple of highly-credentialed imports who have demanded plenty of off-court hype and attention. But Wagstaff remains a crowd favourite with the Wildcats faithful.
“I am confident heading into finals this time round, but it’s like that old cliché, isn’t it? Anything can happen,” he says.
“I think this is the first year where we’ve had a bit of athleticism. No disrespect to Kevin Lisch, but he wasn’t quite the high-flyer that Jimmy and Dolla currently are.”
Wagstaff’s value to the team can’t be under-estimated. He was named the NBL Rookie of the Year in 2009/10 and picked up the League’s best sixth man award in 2011/12.
Off-contract at season’s end, he’s taking nothing for granted but would like to be back for a sixth year in the Wildcats line-up.
“There are a few of us that come off contract at the end of this season. At least I know I’ve got a couple of other pieces of paper to fall back on. But, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
“I’ve seen huge changes. New players, new personnel, a new venue and more recently a second coach. It’s been amazing to watch the club grow.
“To see crowds go from less than 5000, to average more than 11,000 a game is just phenomenal. It’s a big testament to the front office.”
The Wildcats hierarchy would undoubtedly return the compliment to one of their most loyal servants.