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2018 SEASON PREVIEW: BASKETBALL AUSTRALIA’s CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

MEN

Departing:

Mate Colina, Angus Glover, Kyle Zunic, Tom Fullarton, Nicholas Stoddart, Lat Mayen, Matthew Johns, Callum Beard

Returning:

Callum Dalton, Samson Froling, Owen Hulland, Alexander Mudronja, Daniel Grida, Alexander Ducas, Kyle Bowen, Francisco Caffaro, Jonathan Tchamwa, Aashay Verma, Wani Swaka Lo Buluk, Tamuri Wigness, Hunter Clarke

Newcomers:

Hunter Goodrick, Isaiah Lee, Kody Stattmann, Aiden Krause, Josh Kunen Gatbel, Francisco Farabello, Anyang Garang, Hyunjung Lee, Aly Khalifa, Kane Waters

Fixture:
2018 will be the first season that COE are able to qualify to play finals, thanks to now playing a full season. They will begin their season on the road in Melbourne, before having weeks off in round four and 14.

Overall:
Now playing a full season, the rigours of a heavy schedule will be the biggest obstacle for the CoE but the opportunity to feature in the playoffs will be a great incentive for the team. Their trio of returning players fill out their front court nicely and Samson Froling will be the centrepiece of their line-up. Alongside Callum Dalton and Owan Hulland, he will be tasked with defending the largest and most imposing opposition forwards week in and week out and their interior defence will be key to the CoE’s chances.

11 members of the side will be heading overseas immediately before the SEABL season begins to play in the Albert Schweitzer Tournament, an international event for Under-18’s. While that will get them ready for the campaign ahead of them, it illustrates how young this team is with Daniel Grida (who turns 20 next month) their eldest player.

The CoE contain a ton of exciting youth though with the likes of Kody Stattmann, who averaged 31 points per game at the 2017 Under-17 Oceania Championships, Alexander Ducas who has graduated to the CoE after spending last year with the NBA Global Academy and Isaiah Lee who is a terror out on the perimeter at both ends of the court as well as a strong passer all set to entertain this season.

WOMEN

Departing:

Abby Cubillo, Rebecca Pizzey, Jasmine Simmons, Maddison Rocci, Samantha Simons, Kiera Rowe, Ezi Magbegor, Emma Clarke, Zitina Aokuso, Jazmin Shelley.

Returning:

Isabelle Bourne, Taylor Mole.

Newcomers:

Isabel Palmer, Agnes Emma-Nnopu, Elissa Brett, Eliza Hollingsworth, Kobe King-Hawea, Adelaide Fuller, Gemma Potter, Shyla Heal, Ashlee Hannan, Kelsey Rees, Suzi-Rose Deegan.

Fixture:
Like the men, this season will be the first time that COE play a full season and as a result be eligible to make finals. The women have a packed season with two games each week to make up for the weeks off in rounds 3 and 4, and again from round 13-15.

Overall:
A harsh turnover of players is normal for the CoE but with only two players returning from 2017, it may take them a couple of weeks to find their chemistry on court. If they had been eligible for finals last season, the women were a legitimate chance for the Championship after finishing third in the East Conference and with finals now a possibility in 2018, the CoE could be one of the surprises this year.

Shyla Heal, Isabel Palmer, Agnes Emma-Nnopu, Gemma Potter, Eliza Hollingsworth, Ashlee Hannan and Darcy Rees were all a part of the Australian Sapphires team that helped them qualify for this year’s Under-17 World Cup. They are sure to be crucial members of the line-up throughout the season but should they make the final team for the World Cup, they will miss the SEABL playoffs which throws a spanner in the works.

18-year old Kobe King-Hawea is a player to watch, already on the WNBA radar after making a splash at international camps while she has also become the first female player to receive a scholarship to the NBA Global Academy in Canberra. Eliza Hollingsworth will add length to their front court alongside Rees and Hannan who both stand at over 192cm while Suzi-Rose Deegan averaged a double-double at last year’s Under-18 Australian Championships, finishing with 10.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.6 steals per game.