By Lachy France

Brydens Sydney Uni Flames have added the first piece of international flavour to the 2016/17 roster with American centre Jennifer Hamson signing with the club for the season. Hamson, who played both basketball and volleyball at Brigham Young University, is considered one of the finest female athletes to ever represent the college, becoming the only player to win West Coast Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, which she achieved in 2014. Hamson was also awarded the conference’s volleyball Player of the Year award in 2012 and received another All-West Coast Conference first team selection in 2014.

The Flames’ newest signing enjoyed a glittering college career which culminated in an outstanding senior season in which the 201cm centre averaged 17.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 4.2 blocks per game to lead BYU to the WCC tournament final and the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament before the Cougars eventually went down to eventual champions UConn.

Hamson forms part of one of the most storied sports families in BYU history. Her mother, Tresa Spaulding, was a four-time All American, and holds the BYU scoring, rebounding, and blocks records, with Jennifer sitting in second place in the career rebounding and blocks list for BYU. Tresa was inducted into the BYU Hall Of Fame in 1998, whilst it is surely only a matter of time until Jennifer is awarded the same accolade. Jennifer’s aunt and uncle also played volleyball for BYU, whilst her brother, Alan, is a member of the school’s men’s basketball team.

Jennifer took a year off basketball after the 2014 season to focus on volleyball, despite being selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the 23rd pick of the 2014 WNBA Draft. That volleyball talent has certainly influenced Hamson’s game, something not lost on the Flames’ latest recruit.

“Volleyball has helped me with my vertical and I believe it has helped me avoid injuries so far,” Hamson explained. “Whether it’s volleyball or basketball it’s fun to block shots. Playing 2 sports was fun and I’m excited to put my focus into basketball to see what I can do.”

Hamson returned to basketball with the Sparks in 2015, starting twice and averaging 6.5 minutes in 25 regular season games. Her standout WNBA performance that season came against Phoenix early in the campaign, top scoring for the Sparks with 12 points and leading the team in rebounds with 7 in a 70-65 loss. That Sparks team featured two Australian players, whose praise for the WNBL piqued Hamson’s interest.

“Last [American] summer I played with 2 teammates from Australia [Marianna Tolo and Erin Phillips] and appreciated their level of play and competitiveness,” Hamson said. “They had great things to say about the WNBL and I’m excited to experience the league for myself.”

Prior to making the move to Sydney, Hamson spent the 2015/16 European season in Russia, playing for Enisey Krasnoyarsk. Averaging 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in the Russian league as Enisey finished 6th, Hamson also featured in the EuroCup, putting up 8.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in the team’s 8 games as Enisey reached the Round of 16 before being defeated by French club Nantes.

Hamson joins the Flames looking to improve her all-round play, but the American already has the game to be a vital player for the team. “I am looking to continue to improve my skills for my position both offensively and defensively. I am excited to help the Flames be more competitive and successful in the WNBL,” Hamson explained. “I hope to add to the Flames’ defensive presence. I love to run in transition and score around the basket. Off the court I look forward to getting involved with the community and serving any way I can.”

“And I’m excited to escape the Utah winter and enjoy an Australian summer.”

Make sure you guarantee your seat to watch Jennifer and the rest of the Flames by purchasing a membership for 2016/17. Memberships start from just $19! Click here for more details.

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