A Warrnambool export who went onto become one of Australia's most successful basketball coaches is bound for the NBA.
Five-time Perth Wildcats championship-winning mentor Trevor Gleeson has called time on the NBL, citing an opportunity in America.
Gleeson, whose first coaching gig was with the Warrnambool Mermaids in the early 1990s, has left Perth with one year remaining on his contract.
It comes after he led the Wildcats to the title in five of his eight years at the helm.
Gleeson, who was named NBL coach of the year this past season, announced his decision to leave the competition's most successful organisation on Monday.
He leaves the club having won 171 of 269 games.
"I'm excited by the opportunity but I'm very sad to leave a great organisation like the Perth Wildcats," Gleeson said.
"I still remember being interviewed by the board in 2013, and the faith and support they gave me all the way through has been incredible."
Gleeson said Perth's support extended beyond the court.
"When (wife) Dawn had her reoccurrence of breast cancer, the support the Perth Wildcats, the Perth community and the Red Army gave us around that time was something I'll never forget," he said.
"They embraced us, and Perth is always going to be home for us.
"We tried to give back as much as we could to the community with the Pink Game, and we won a few championships along the way."
Gleeson, who also had stints coaching Townsville and Melbourne, said it was a bitter-sweet time.
"It's been an unbelievable eight-year journey, it exceeded my expectations on every level," he said.
"It's very much mixed emotions to be leaving players and coaches that I love, as well as the organisation and the staff.
"But I know it will be a happy chapter of my life when I look back on it. I'm ready for this next adventure."
Gleeson has spent time in the USA previously as an assistant coach for NBA G-League side Sioux Falls Skyforce.
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