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Hamblin signs on with Lightning

THE MAC Adelaide Lightning have responded to the WNBL’s surge in big player recruitments by signing former WNBA centre Ruth Hamblin for the 2017-18 campaign.

Hamblin, 23 next month and a 198cm Canadian star who played four years of college ball at Oregon State University, was a WNBA teammate of Adelaide’s 2008 WNBL championship-winning point guard Erin Phillips at Dallas Wings in 2016.

Phillips, 31 and recently waived by the Wings, has retired from the WNBA but will be at the Opals camp in Phoenix next month before returning to South Australia in October to resume her stellar football career with the Crows’ inaugural AFLW premiership-winning team.

Securing Hamblin, who spent the 2016-17 WNBL season with Perth Lynx where she averaged 11.0 points at 54 per cent, and 7.7 rebounds per game, is a further huge coup for Adelaide.

It means coach Chris Lucas has a virtual new starting five with Aimie Clydesdale, Nicole Seekamp, Natalie Novosel, Abby Bishop and now Hamblin.

Last season’s frontcourt import Colleen Planeta also currently is earmarked to return to suit as an unrestricted player, with Sarah Elsworthy and Chelsea Brook also retained.

“I’m really excited to have Ruth as part of our program for the upcoming season,” Lucas said from Phoenix, where he is studying the Mercury’s WNBA program under new Opals coach Sandy Brondello.

“She is an athlete who brings terrific size and will give us a presence in the paint.

“Ruth is hard-working and I’m looking forward to her continued development as a player.

“She has a great personality that fits exactly with what we are looking for in terms of our team culture and chemistry.

“Ruth has also put her WNBA career on ‘hold’ to concentrate on Team Canada commitments.  

“We felt it was important to recruit a player with size to compete in the league this season.”

Several clubs have recruited bona fide “bigs” in their four-five spots.

Melbourne Boomers now have the Liz Cambage-Louella Tomlinson tandem, Dandenong Rangers will pair Carley Mijovic with import Kayla Pedersen, Townsville boasts the Suzy Batkovic-Cayla George championship-winning duo, Sydney has retained championship import centre Jennifer Hamson and still is looking for a ‘four’ to replace Asia Taylor.

Canberra has signed 196cm Lauren Scherf and is searching for an import power forward to replace Marianna Tolo who is Europe-bound.

Hamblin averaged 11.8 points at 55 per cent, 10.0 rebounds and blocked 3.5 shots per game as a senior with Oregon State before being taken at 18 in last year’s draft by Dallas.

She was a two-time Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year, a Canadian international who with Bishop, will form a powerful frontcourt alliance for the Lightning.

May 16

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