Oaklands Wolves' WBBL programme will once again put the development and growth of the British game at the centre of its programme this season. The Oaklands College Academy is well known for challenging the best young players at the WBBL level and this committment reaches yet another landmark with an initial squad of 13 academy athletes being named for the 2022/23 season.
Returning for the Wolves are six players who all made significant impacts in last season's campaign; starting with a strong returning guard trio of GB U18 squad member Miriam Menendez, Welsh international Daisy Porter and GB athlete Kizzy Spence-Mussington. The three players led the academy group in the league last year and will be looking to build on that this season. Joining them will be fellow Welsh international Rosie Porter, and forwards Cleo Lewis-Gayle and Eva Karasaite. The 6 players averaged 18 minutes minimum in action last season so expect to see that number grow as they all make a push for starting roles as the season develops.
Kizzy had this to say about the season ahead “I’m really excited to be returning for my 3rd year with Oaklands Wolves. It’s been such an important place for my personal growth and development as a player, I am ready to be a leader this season. I can’t wait to see some of our new academy players start their journey, it’s a challenge but so much fun!”
Joining the squad for 2022/23 is a while raft of new players many coming through the Wolves strong club structure. Promoted from the U16 premier side are forwards Jacqueline Osei and Ella Brown along with guards Mila Piscitelli and
Joanna Akpan. The four regional athletes will be studying Basketball Englands DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) qualification as part of their performance program at Oaklands. New to Oaklands is Cerys Wright, another Welsh prospect who follow her brother Oliver Wright through the Oaklands pathway. Grace Foster (Sevenoaks Suns), Qeren Kanyunyi (Mersey Mavericks) round off the group and will all be looking to make the breakthrough to the WBBL this season.
The desire to grow the game in the UK doesn’t stop at players; Oaklands continues to invest in opportunities for British coaches and this season Tor Freeman will join the WBBL on the sidelines as he adds the WBBL team to his successful role as the Wolves U16 club coach. He had this to say about the opportunity ahead “This is an exciting place to be as a coach, what’s better than developing the next generation of talent for the British game! The academy continues to be the focus for us at Oaklands and I look forward to giving our young core the chance to have a significant impact in minutes and performance this season.”
Head of Performance Lee Ryan added “Its testament to everyone involved at Oaklands College that we continue to be given this platform to allow youth players to thrive and shine at the highest level. We are serious about growing our games player pool, as well as coaches and support staff. It’s great to now see so many Wolves alumni out there, on court and on the sidelines, adding to the British game. This group is really exciting, it’s going to be a steep learning curve as always, but come the end of the year we will see huge development in them all.”
Oaklands open the season with the toughest of all tests as they face London Lions at Oaklands Sports Zone. Tip-off is 4.15pm, and admission is free. It's huge opportunity for the academy team to test themselves against the very best and ahead of senior signings which will follow for the Wolves in the weeks to come.