Oaklands Wolves will continue their tradition of providing the best junior player development platform in the country.
The 2019-20 season will be no exception, with five WEABL academy players starting the campaign as part of the senior squad.
Returning for her third season is dynamic 5ft 9in guard Khia Lee. The Manchester native has steadily improved year on year, but will be looking to become a regular in the WBBL this time round.
The second returner from last season is Fionnuala Wharton. The British guard transitioned from Swedish basketball last year and she has all the tools to make an impact at the senior level, which she showed in flashes last season.
New to the squad is 6ft 2in Forward Louise Rouse, a member of the Wolves academy last year. Her growth and development have gained her a call up to the seniors. Narrowly missing out on the GB U18s this past summer, she will be looking to make an impact on her debut.
“We have all been given such great support from the experienced coaching staff at Oaklands,” commented Rouse.
“I have personally improved so much already and its helped me realise the work that is required to push towards the WBBL level.
“I look up to all the players at that WBBL level, and I’ve been inspired by the Oaklands women since day one last season. I’m so excited to get to play with them this year and learn from their experience!”
Meanwhile Oaklands have also graduated two players from their own club programme to the academy this season in the shape of GB U16 players in the form of 6ft 0in pair Jocie Leavold and Grace Ashton.
The two versatile forwards have dominated the junior game and will be looking to impose themselves on the senior level as part of their ongoing development. Leavold comes off a European campaign where she averaged 2.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in 9 minutes of action.
Wolves’ head coach Lee Ryan stated: “Having a strong group move from the academy to the senior level is a testament to the work of all the coaches in the Oaklands pathway.
“It’s a big step up but these players have shown what they are capable of and will be hungry for the opportunity ahead of them.
“All five of them will get the chance to compete at the D2 women’s level alongside the WBBL, as we continue to run a development NBL programme with the University of Hertfordshire. I’m looking forward to seeing which player rises to the challenge throughout the season,” enthused the play-caller.
Oaklands announce a trio of European signings tomorrow at midday, follow them @oaklandsball to find out who returns for the #Wolfpack