The Canberra Capitals have pulled off a major recruiting coup by signing WNBA-bound Adelaide Lightning youngster Stephanie Talbot for next season.
And Australian Opals forward Abby Bishop will decide within two weeks whether she returns to the WNBL club, or plays in Europe as Canberra looks to nail down the league’s most imposing front court.
Former WNBL rookie of the year Talbot, taken at pick 33 by Phoenix Mercury in last month’s WNBA draft, has been training in Canberra over the off-season as part of Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence Program at the AIS.
The small forward is believed to be the first player to officially sign with the Capitals for the 2014-15 season, with a number expected to follow suit shortly.
Bishop is keen to stay and superstar Opals centre Lauren Jackson is already pencilled in as Canberra coach Carrie Graf works to build a roster capable of a playoff return after a three-year absence.
Jackson revealed last week she is yet to officially re-sign, but said it isn’t a cause for concern and she has committed to a Capitals return for the next two seasons.
The 33-year-old terminated talks with Canberra about playing for them last season after they failed to meet a contract deadline imposed by her management.
The delay in finalising the Capitals’ mooted partnership with University of Canberra has put several player contracts in limbo.
“They’ve got to do up a new contract but I’m not worried, everything will get sorted,” Jackson said.
“My contract hasn’t been done so I’d imagine no one’s been done, or talked about.
“We need to get a team together. The teams I’ve been successful in at Canberra have had great players, it hasn’t just been me.
“I’m not concerned, I know Graffy’s on the hunt.”
Talbot, 19, co-captained Australia’s under-19 team to bronze at last year’s world championships, and was named on the tournament’s All Star Five team.
She is regarded as a star of the future, and in March was named in an Opals long squad of 33 for the FIBA World Championships in Turkey later this year.
Her signing will help offset the loss of Canberra-born centre Alex Bunton, who signed with Adelaide last week.
Bishop has just returned from a short stint with Hungarian side PEAC Pecs and her sister’s eight-month-old daughter she has taken custody of, Zala, will have a major bearing on her decision.
The London Olympian is contracted with Canberra for 2015-16, but Bunton’s departure means the Capitals have stepped up moves to sign her for next season.
“I met with Graffy [Capitals coach Carrie Graf] a couple of days ago and I want to stay here, it’s just a matter of if something worth my while comes up in Europe or not,” she said.
“If not I’ll be a Cap again, in about two weeks I should know.
“I’d love to stay in Canberra and that’s my first preference. I want to do what’s best for Zala and if that’s Europe well it is, if not I’ll be here.
“I got back on Friday and since then Zala’s been struggling with jetlag. It’s not easy travelling and changing places with a baby.”
Bishop said the prospect of playing alongside Jackson and Talbot, who she played a season alongide at Adelaide, is ”enticing”.
“I think Steph’s got amazing potential, she’s got lots of talent and you’ll see her develop even more under a coach like Graffy,” Bishop said.
“The team Graffy’s half put together so far, I’d love to play in a team which looks great on paper and could be even better on court.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.