In exactly a month’s time, on September 24th at the Wildcats Arena sitting high up on the Sneinton & Bakersfield border NG3, Nottingham Wildcats will begin their WBBL campaign with the hosting of Gloucester City Queens, where they’ll look to go even bigger and better than the season before, following a fifth place regular championship finish and semi-final playoff exit to Sevenoaks Suns, who were beaten by London Lions at the O2 Arena for the women’s basketball top prize of Britain, the Lions clinching the treble during a fabulous unbeaten campaign.
Catching the Lions will be well within the sights of Nottingham this year, the Wildcats were late to the playoff party after a slow start to the 2021/22 season but ended the year in good form, they lost by the narrowest of margins to second placed Sevenoaks in their semi-final, just two points separating the two sides (Suns winning 66-64), and this season coach Kenrick Liburd will take heart going into a new campaign, that his much changed outfit from the year before, will by this time next month have had time to settle and get to know another, as they look to progress in the hunt for silverware.
Nottingham have never won the WBBL playoffs, but they have twice won the championship (in 2015/16 & 2016/17), reaching the playoff final three times (15,16 & 17) and they also have a WBBL Cup gong which they won in 2018, one of the leading sides in the country during the last decade.
Over the summer, the Wildcats have been busy preparing their roster for the season ahead. American Shaunay Edmonds has left to join ZKK Kraljevo in Serbia whilst Dejanae Casanova out-go’s to Georgia Highlands College in the NJCAA. Brooklyn Pannell exits having signed a contract with Marbo Basket of Sweden, but another American star in Kayla Shaw will be joining the green team with NCAA experience. Shaw stating on twitter “I picked the Wildcats because I have always wanted to play in England, and after my first conversation with Coach Kenrick, I just felt as though it were the perfect fit.”
Shaw continued “The organization feels like a very close-knit community which is something that really stood out for me. I see myself fitting in to the style of play and I hope to bring my passion, scoring, IQ, work ethic, and whatever else the team needs from me each and every day! I can’t wait to get to work as a Wildcat”.
Joining Shaw on court next season will see the return of Canadian born Point Guard Jahnae Gyles. The former Humber Hawks MVP averaged 17.4ppg in her debut WBBL campaign with 4.1rpg in the regular season and was a real star for the Wildcats over 2021/22.
Another playing re-joining the clubs WBBL push is local born star Brahe Ashton who at 5ft5in is one of the smallest players in the team. What Brahe lacks for in size however, she certainly doesn’t lack in stature. The Clifton born former GB youth star is captain of the Wildcats and is hoping that she can lead her team to glory having stepped up through the squad’s academy system over the years.
More great news for Nottingham ahead of the season start is that Kennedy Nicholas is back for another stint as she hopes to continue her impressive stats and performances in England.
Nicholas last season topped the league chart for rebounds, averaging 13.3 per game with an ave points tally per match of 11.4 with over a steel and a block on average each game too. She’ll no doubt be as important as anyone as the team look to start well, the hope is a couple more additions to those already announced will have the Wildcats ready prepared for their late September start.
After opening up in the league verses Gloucester in a 6pm tip off on the 24th next month the Wildcats will then travel to Newcastle Eagles for their second match of the season (Oct 1st) before hosting Manchester Met Mystics (Oct 8th) before opening up their WBBL Cup campaign at Oaklands Wolves on October 15th.
For a full list of fixtures visit the WBBL website here.
*Main image @DelawareWBB Kayla Shaw joins from Delaware Blue Hens in America.