Adelaide Lightning have secured a major recruiting coup, today announcing USA national junior and Phoenix Mercury forward Brianna Turner as one of the club’s two 2019-20 WNBL imports.
Turner, 22 and 191cm, will take on the power forward role with Lightning and is one of the most exciting young international players Adelaide has recruited.
She represented the USA at the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship, the 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship and averaged 13.6 points at 60 percent, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists while co-captaining the national team to her third Gold Medal at the 2014 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship.
That same year Turner was named both the USA’s Female Athlete of the Year and its National High School Player of the Year.
An exceptional college career at storied University of Notre Dame saw her taken as the 11th pick of this year’s WNBA draft by Atlanta Dream and Phoenix Mercury immediately traded for her.
Joining Opals coach Sandy Brondello and soon-to-be Lightning teammate Stephanie Talbot at the Mercury, Turner could not be more excited at how her career is unfolding.
“It’s a goal for me to play for the (senior) USA national team,” Turner said. “Sandy is a phenomenal coach and I know my time in Australia will help towards that goal as well.
“Australian players are long and athletic and I’ve only heard great things about the WNBL.
“I feel like Australia is a beautiful country and I was really interested in the shorter season.”
Turner knows WNBA guard Lindsay Allen, who played in 2018-19 for Melbourne Boomers, from their college days and also as USA junior teammates.
“Knowing Natalie Novosel went to Notre Dame too also helped,” she said.
Novosel, Talbot, Nicole Seekamp, Lauren Nicholson and Chelsea Brook all have signed on for another assault on the WNBL championship under reigning league Coach of the Year, Chris Lucas.
Lucas, who also was an assistant to Brondello at the FIBA World Cup last year, is in Phoenix for the WNBA’s pre-season, which started on Monday.
“We’ve been going at it (training) for two days and it is very different to playing in college,” Turner said. “The pace of the game and the amount we are learning in a short time is amazing.”
Turner says her strengths include her ability to run the floor, her defence and shot-blocking.
She completed her college career at Notre Dame averaging 14.6 points, seventh all-time in school history, with her 62 percent career accuracy second all-time.
Adelaide is in the process of recruiting an import centre, to bring its roster to seven.