Bendigo Bank Spirit coach Simon Pritchard continues to keep one eye on the long-term future of the club, upgrading youngster Ebony Rolph from the development list to the main roster for the 2017-18 WNBL season.
The 22-year-old has had a strong SEABL season, taking a leadership role with the conference-leading Geelong Supercats, and doubling her career average points per game.
“Geelong is a great environment for Ebony to develop in, and she is doing really well again this year,” Pritchard said.
“Ebony missed a lot of last WNBL season with a finger injury, but when she returned, she was one our best performers on the track.”
The popular player is a Western Victorian local, originally from Portland.
“Developing regional Victorian players is one of the Spirit’s key goals,” Pritchard said.
“What can get lost in a lot of what we do, especially in the public’s eye, is the work we do to develop regional Victorians.
“We want every girl playing basketball in regional Victoria to want to play with the Spirit one day. The importance of a pathway can’t be underestimated. We are always focussed on the season we are in, but we are also looking two, three and four years ahead.
“This year we have Gabe (Seymour), Ebony, Heather (Wangaratta) and Kara (Monegeeta) on our roster, all country kids. We’ll be announcing our three development players in the next week or so, and they are all from Bendigo.
“Ebony is a player we think can play a big role in the future of the Spirit and of basketball in regional Victoria, and we are proud once again to have her suit up with us.”
Ebony said having a regional team in one of the world’s leading basketball competitions is important.
“Being able to play basketball and stay close to home is really important,” she said.
“Country kids have never had that chance before, especially if they dream of playing at the highest level.
“If you look at how much talent is around, being able to have a pathway from juniors all the way to international level without leaving your family and friends helps you be a better player.
“I am grateful I will have another chance to prove my worth at the Spirit.
“If you’re from Bendigo, or Geelong, or Ballarat, or even Portland, grab a Spirit membership at www.bendigospirit.com.au and come and see some of the best players in the word.”