WNBL Free Agency: Nicholson to join Fire and George back in Boom Town
SINCE Tuesday afternoon, the WNBL has had its hands full with big moves in its second week of the Free Agency period. Former Defensive Player of the Year (2018/19) in Lauren Nicholson has joined what is starting to look like a serious contender in the Townsville Fire, while former Perth Lynx star, Sami Whitcomb, is set to return to the west after an overseas stint in France.
In addition, WNBL veterans Cayla George and Brittany Smart have stated their intentions for the upcoming season, with George staying put in “Boom Town” for a third consecutive season and Smart making the move to the nation’s capital to suit up in Paul Gorris’ side.
Nicholson, who has long been praised for her defensive ability, was awarded the Adelaide Lightning’s club Defensive Player of the Year Award this past season adding to what has been a very successful WNBL career to this point.
Following the move Tuesday, Nicholson lines up next to the likes of young guns Zitina Aokuso and Shyla Heal, as well as Mia Murray in Shannon Seebohm‘s bid to bring glory back to the far-north following a sub-par 5-16 record in WNBL20.
At a glance, Nicholson was a productive force for the Lightning last season, as she helped her side to a fourth-place finish after 21 games. She would average a consistent 14.2 points per contest, while earning her keep in the rebounding and steals categories, averaging 3.4 and 1.4 in the respective categories.
In Townsville’s media release, the location of the move and the community love for the team were the critical factors in the 27-year-old’s decision, “I am so excited about the move to Townsville and joining the Fire next season, every time I come to Townsville, I love the community feeling, the crowd and its supporters are certainly the loudest and most passionate in the league. I can’t wait to get the feeling of playing at the stadium, with them supporting me, wearing the Fire colours, it will be awesome to be a part of,” said Nicholson.
Out by the Indian Ocean, the Perth Lynx have initiated their announcements regarding next season’s signees, as Whitcomb will don the red and black for the first time since the 2017/18 campaign.
Following a WNBA championship with the Seattle Storm and two seasons with French powerhouse, Basket Lattes, Whitcomb brings an abundance of success and experience to newly signed head coach, Ryan Petrik’s side.
Whitcomb averages over 20 points per game to this point in her WNBL career, as the backcourt prospect will prove to be a handful for opposing sides with the goal of helping the Lynx return to the postseason.
Down in Victoria, the Melbourne Boomers announced that co-captain George (next to Maddie Garrick) would be staying at the club for another year, as the 31-year-old WNBL Hall of Fame inductee will be a part of Guy Molloy’s 2020/21 squad.
Completing her WNBL20 season with averages of 14.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and four assists per game, George continues to ride a string of successful seasons in the Purple and Gold as the Boomers can look to both their team leaders for next season’s affairs.
Looking to the nation’s capital, where Gorris has added some more experience to the defending champs, as Smart has signed on for a one-year contract in the ACT, according to the club.
Coming off a minimised season (seven games), Smart would still maintain almost 10 points per game in the games she would participate in, indicating there is more to be offered by the 35-year-old.
Smart enters her sixth season in the WNBL and will look to be a guiding force for the Caps, as they look to make history and win three consecutive championships for the first time since the Adelaide Lightning dynasty of 1994-96 led by Rachael Sporn.
Draft Central can also confirm that the following Canberra signings during the Free Agency period have all agreed to one-year contracts for the 2020/21 season, per the Capitals administration.
Marianna Tolo, Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling, Maddison Rocci, Abby Cubillo, Alex Delaney and Tahlia Tupaea.