KICKING off the final week of this season’s WNBL Player Spotlights, Draft Central focuses in on a Sydney Uni Flames group that is looking to make a little more noise this time round, after what was a relatively quiet WNBL20 campaign, finishing with a win-loss record of 7-14.
The first face we look at in this squad is a rather unfamiliar one for the city of Sydney. Lauren Mansfield – who recently arrived during the Free Agency period after two productive seasons with the Perth Lynx – will line up with the Flames, making them the fifth WNBL side she has allied with in her career to this point and is ready to put on display her two-way repertoire.
A college basketball product of Iowa State University, Mansfield’s resume is nothing short of impressive. Finishing her NCAA career as her side’s starting point guard, the newly minted prospect made a return to her home state of South Australia in what was a substantial stint at the Adelaide Lightning between 2012 and 2014.
After two years at the Lightning, an opportunity came knocking as a new WNBL side emerged out of South East Queensland. Originally signing on for a limited role with the SEQ Stars, Mansfield got her chance to make a name for herself following an injury to fellow teammate Erin Phillips. The sequence of events helped Mansfield become a top-10 scorer (15.5 points per game) of the WNBL and accumulate an average of 5.4 assists per game as well (second amongst league leaders). As a result, she was selected for the 2016 Rio Australian Opals squad.
2015 and 2016 helped set the trajectory for Mansfield’s career in an upward direction and saw the 30-year-old’s talents head to Canberra for a single season followed by two campaigns with the Lynx.
Regarding last season, Mansfield remained consistent during the 2019/20 fixture, averaging 9.6 points per game while shooting 35.2 per cent from the field. Despite the average level of her shot converting last year, the lefty-guard provided much needed aid on the defensive end, swiping 34 steals in 21 games and averaging over three rebounds a contest. Further adding to this, Mansfield facilitated the rock splendidly maintaining four and a half assists each time out on the court to round out an awesome previous season.
Since then Mansfield has kept herself busy in the Queensland State League (QBL) during the offseason, averaging 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and five assists for the Red City Roar, helping her side get to the finals with a seven-win and four-loss record despite being knocked out in the first round of the postseason at the hands of the Gold Coast Rollers.
Announced to sign with the Flames alongside a young and exciting Anneli Maley of the Southside Flyers, Mansfield noted how much of a factor the club’s culture will help her further her career, “I am very excited to be joining the Flames,” Mansfield said.
“After speaking with Katrina [Hibbert], who emphasised building a good culture with a mix of young talent and experienced players, I thought Sydney would be a great fit for the further development of my basketball career,” Mansfield said.
For coach Hibbert, she heavily praised Mansfield’s experience and desire to compete in welcoming her to a Flames team that is keen make headway in WNBL21.
“Lauren is a crafty left-hander who will bring instant leadership into the PG position with her experience from years in the WNBL and as an Opal representative. She is a tough competitor at both ends of the court so I know we will have the ability to extend our defence and disrupt up the floor this season which excites me,” Hibbert said.
“Offensively she’s just as tough, with the ability to hit from range and then attack the rim to score under pressure or come up with a no-look pass to a teammate. She will be fun to watch,” concluded the Flames’ coach.