Torns recruit named rookie of the year

THE season's prospects for the Launceston Tornadoes received a major boost when teenage recruit Alex Wilson was yesterday named WNBL rookie of the year.

The 19-year-old Townsville Fire star added to her fast-growing collection of awards, which already included the NAIDOC South Australian sportswoman of the year and MVP for the Australian under-20 championships played in Launceston last year.

Wilson was also part of the Australian Gems team that won a bronze medal at the FIBA under-19 world championships in Lithuania, averaging 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

As a former assistant at Townsville Fire, Torns coach Peta Sinclair had been closely monitoring Wilson's performances.

``This award sums up the hard work that she has put into her WNBL season,'' Sinclair said. 

``She's made a real impact for such a young player on a team that boasts a number of experienced veterans, like Suzy Batkovic, Rachael McCully and Micaela Cocks.''

Wilson's Fire teammate and former Tornadoes star Batkovic has also been named in the WNBL all-star five for the fourth year in a row and Sinclair couldn't think of a better top-class veteran for the youngster to learn from.

``We've recruited well in Ally and she'll be essential in combating some of the bigger guards in the league.''

With Townsville progressing into the WNBL finals, set to  begin on February 22, the Torns will have to wait to welcome Wilson to Launceston, but with Adelaide Lightning out of contention, Lauren Mansfield and Nadeen Payne are  expected to arrive shortly.  

Sinclair said the group had been training hard since October.  

``Olivia Howard, Emma Russell, Alicia Riley and some of the state's best young basketball stars, including our exciting young rookies Tahanee Bennell and Mariah Payne make up our core group,'' she said. 

``We're young, but we know that that's going to be our edge.  What's really important is we've gelled really well and we're all looking forward to the arrival of Lauren, Nadeen and Ally.''

The Tornadoes start the 2014 season with a road trip to Albury-Wodonga and Knox on March 22 and 23.

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