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Lightning's piece of WNBA history

KAYLA Alexander holding down the centre for MAC Adelaide Lightning in the 2018-19 WNBL season will give the club two quality WNBA imports for the first time in its history.

Alexander will join combo forward Nia Coffey in Chris Lucas’ slightly retooled team which still brings back its nucleus through Aimie Clydesdale, Nicole Seekamp, Lauren Nicholson, Colleen Planeta, and adds Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist and WNBL champion Stephanie Blicavs.

Four-time Olympian Laura Hodges will miss the season (pregnant), captain Abby Bishop and Canadian centre Ruth Hamblin lost to free agency.

Coffey, 22 and 185cm, starts for Las Vegas Aces - the relocated former San Antonio Stars franchise - while Alexander, 27 and 193cm, is coming off the bench for Indiana Fever.

Drafted at #8 in 2013 by San Antonio Stars after a spectacular four-year career at storied Syracuse University, Alexander left the Orange as the school’s  all-time leader in points (2,024), blocks (350), field goals (736), free throws made (552), free throws attempted (750) and games played (140).

At that point, Alexander (left) was only the second player from Syracuse selected in a WNBA Draft, becoming a regular in the San Antonio rotation, averaging 6.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in five seasons.

Traded this season to Indiana, the Canadian international is averaging 4.3 points at 63 per cent and 3.3 rebounds.

“I’ve never been to Australia before, so it will be a first for me,” Alexander said.

“It’s definitely going to be a new experience, but I’m looking forward to it.”

In past WNBA off-seasons, Alexander has played for Spartak Vidnoe Moscow Region in Russia and CJM Bourges Basket in France.

Donning the Lightning blue will reunite her with Coffey, the pair teammates last season at San Antonio.

“Kayla is the nicest person and I’m really excited I get to be her teammate again,” Coffey said.

“I’m just looking forward to being with her again because we’re not on the same (WNBA) team this year, so it will be great to be reunited.”

While Coffey brings an inside/outside component to her game and easily can slide over to the three-spot if Lucas chooses to run her together with Planeta at the four, Alexander will be Adelaide’s primary post.

“I hear the league is pretty competitive and really good,” Alexander said.

“There’s a lot of talented players, it’s pretty physical, so I’m looking forward to the competitiveness.

“I’m also looking forward to the player development aspect as well from the coaches.

“I think it should be fun. I’m looking forward to an overall great experience.”

Lucas, who spent much of the past month in Phoenix as the Mercury prepared for their WNBA season, said Alexander came strongly recommended.

“Her athleticism and work ethic, plus her potential to thrive in the WNBL impressed a lot of coaches who spoke very highly of her,” he said.

Lucas is confident both Coffey and Alexander will flourish, in much the same way Kelsey Griffin’s arrival in Australia in 2012 had a hugely positive impact on her WNBA career at Connecticut Sun.

Jun 3

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