Oaklands Wolves will once more use the WBBL franchise to push the most talented junior players as they look to fulfil their potential in the sport. Since their inception in 2009 as an elite academy, the primary focus of Oaklands College Basketball has been the development of youth, and as the franchise enters its 5th season this ethos is continuing to be at the forefront of what the program is about.
This year sees 5 under 18 players join the WBBL ranks alongside the Oaklands College WEABL program. The return of Jocie Leavold and Grace Ashton will give the pair a great chance to establish themselves in the main rotation this season. Leavold, a 6’0” wing, played in 14 games last season adding 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. Shooting 40% from the 3 point line she showed her potential throughout the campaign, and she will be looking for more opportunity this time around. Ashton, a 6’1’’ forward, appeared in 9 games for the Hertfordshire based outfit last year, adding an explosive presence off the bench with 1.2 points and 1.1 rebounds in limited minutes.
Leavold had this to say about the season ahead “I’m very excited to be part of this squad going into my second year. This year is a big opportunity for me to grow my role in the team and keep improving individually. It’s going to be a good season for us, we have a lot of talent and we’re looking strong.”
Coach Ryan is delighted the pair are returning adding “The two of them have a great future in the game, the step up to the level can difficult for many but these two have all the qualities to make it and contribute in the WBBL. Jocie has had a strong off season and looks set to be heavily involved, Grace is still working her way back after the hiatus but i’m confident we will see her feature as the season progresses.”
In addition the Wolves add 3 guards to the mix from the Oaklands Academy. Sophie Beard joined the squad late last season, the 5’7’’ guard impressed in the WEABL and earned herself 4 appearances off the bench last season. She will be looking to establish herself this year and test her creative skills at the next level. Joining her is St Albans local Daisy Porter, a 5’7’’ guard. Porter has worked her way up the Oaklands Wolves Junior ranks and impressed with her high IQ and work ethic in the off season. Previously representing the Welsh national team and a duel sport athlete as part of the Mavericks Netball Academy, Daisy has a bright future in the sport and will look to be in the guard mix right from the off.
Oaklands Academy has also added Kizzy Spence-Mussington to the roster. The 5’6’’ guard is a late addition after moving to the Hertfordshire program from Manchester, but already showing flashes of her high potential. The GB international prospect has a combination of quickness, skill and a confidence that is rare at her age, expect to see her make an impact through the season.
Porter speaks for her teammates when she said “We feel really excited for the challenge of the WBBL this season. We are already learning so much from training and all our teammates are so supportive and encouraging. It is a great opportunity for me personally to develop as a player and take basketball to the next level.”
Coach Ryan continued “The three guards will add competition to the group and what an opportunity for them to practice and play with such experienced seniors week in week out. It will be a step up for them to the WBBL so it will be interesting to watch their development in this environment. Daisy’s solid performances in pre-season has really impressed her teammates early on. Sophie and Kizzy will need more time to readjust after the Covid break but their skill sets are really exciting and I look forward to seeing what they will do with their opportunities at this level.”