Losing their league MVP is pretty tough, but should pedigree count for anything Launceston Tornadoes have found an ideal replacement.
New Zealander Stella Beck stands out in her own right.
The new signing for the Tornadoes has been front and centre of her nation’s Tall Ferns program since 2013.
That’s pretty impressive for a prodigious 23-year-old.
But it’s only when digging deeper that Beck appears a like-for-like stand in for outgoing star Lauren Nicholson.
Just as Nicholson chases her next dream to play club basketball in Europe, Beck will follow in a familiar path to the standout woman of the farewell SEABL season.
Nicholson’s potential was first realised at the same basketball fraternity that had reared NBA gun Patty Mills.
As the Gaels graduate was leaving St Mary’s College, Beck as its top sophomore was looking up to Nicholson.
Two years later, the 183cm guard/forward was named the Californian school’s senior female athlete of the year.
That past that led Beck to a first WNBL contract has given Tornadoes chair Janie Finlay a renewed belief.
“Stella has had an outstanding career in the US college system and has been putting up good minutes with the opportunities she has been getting with her time in Townsville,” she said.
“She is just starting out in her professional career and her journey to the Tornadoes is similar to one of our past players, Lauren Nicholson.”
The Tornadoes have been forced to stockpile new talent with the addition of American guard Stephanie Walker.
Finlay said the voids left by Ally Wilson, Lauren Mansfield, Ellie Collins and especially Nicholson provides the club to do what it does best.
“Lauren [Nicholson] was able to develop her skills as part of the Torns program over two seasons,” she said.
“We value our ability to nurture and develop players, and we hope Stella’s game develops the same way during her time in Launceston.”
Beck’s numbers make for some impressive reading.
She’s a two-time all-West Coast conference first team selection after averaging 16.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in her final Gaels year.
That has transferred to 8.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists for Townsville Fire.
The last appearance for New Zealand was scoring 24 points at the annual William Jones Cup against Japan.
Yet Beck views fronting up at the Torns towards taking her game to a new level.
“I have decided to sign with the Tornadoes because I want to improve and be successful, and the Tornadoes and coach Derrick Washington has the ability to do that for me,” Beck said.
“I look forward to meeting the rest of my teammates and their basketball community.”
Beck, whose strength is to get to the rim and hustle on defence, also decided on Launceston for lifestyle.
“Tasmania reminds me of New Zealand,” she said. “It’s a beautiful place and I’m really excited to get there and explore. I love the outdoors, food, coffee and as I’ve never been to Tasmania, it’s an exciting new adventure.”
I have decided to sign with the Tornadoes because I want to improve and be successfulLaunceston Tornadoes recruit Stella Beck