Coach Derrick Washington has scouted the expanses of Europe to find the right fit to fill Lauren Mansfield’s shoes.
There he found Stephanie Gardner in Sweden ready to put her foot forward.
The departure of Mansfield to rest up a recurring number of foot injuries in the winter could freshen up more than just the outlook of the now ex-Tornadoes captain.
Mansfield’s replacement for one only turned pro in 2015 after playing college ball at the University of Miami.
But the 26-year-old has already had previous stints all over Romania, Mexico, Serbia and Lithuania, a trait Washington calls invaluable.
The journeywoman looks keen to head straight to Launceston after her time at Wetterbygden Sparks ends.
“I’m very excited that my first time in Australia I will have the opportunity to play with Launceston Tornadoes,” Gardner said in a statement from Sweden.
“After speaking with coach Washington, I felt that the Launceston Tornadoes provided the best opportunity to achieve both team and individual success.”
Washington appears to have recruited a player suited to his basketball philosophy.
He had watched an assortment of video clips back in the US from her games in both Lithuania and Sweden, and appeared suitably impressed enough to urge the club to sign up Gardner.
The 170cm dynamic point guard has described her best plays “mid-range one-to-two dribble pull ups, spot up threes, drive and kick, pick and roll, and enjoys a fast-paced transition game-style”.
The adjectives paint a picture, but so does her stats.
Gardner first came to the fore back in 2017 playing for Serbian club KG Sumadija, averaging 23 points per game along with 4.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds.
The American had averaged 12.6 points in Lithuania at BC Suduva and 10.8 points so far for Wetterbygden.
The Tornadoes also have plans for Gardner to mentor a number of their teen guards.
Washington was enthusiastic in his first year coaching to gift more minutes on court to Paige French, Aishah Anis and Sophie Ackerly amid Mansfield’s regular absence over injury and for the Australian Opals.
Mansfield had once spent time living in the Anis household that shaped the current 16-year-old guard.
That sort of rapport is something Gardner is keen to build with young teammates.
“I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the community, meeting new people, and playing in a new league with high-level competition,” Gardner said.
“I truly believe that this will be a great fit for both sides. I can’t wait to touch down in Tasmania.”
I truly believe that this will be a great fit for both sides. I can’t wait to touch down in TasmaniaTornadoes signing Stephanie Gardner