Talbot also named Defensive Player of the Year
WNBL names End of Season Awards and All-WNBL First & Second Teams
Adelaide Lightning captain Steph Talbot capped off a stellar 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL season, being named the Suzy Batkovic Medallist for the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Talbot, 26, was also named in the All-WNBL First Team and claimed the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year title for the 2020 season.
During the End of Season Awards function held at The Ville Resort in Townsville on Monday, Talbot – who received the medal from Suzy Batkovic herself was in shock reflecting on her impressive haul.
“I’m shocked but absolutely honoured to be named league MVP. Both Liz (Cambage) and Lauren (Nicholson) had great seasons, with many people deserving of this accolade.
“To have Suzy, someone I admire so much present this Medal to me in person was something I’ll treasure.
“On personal note, I’m delighted to have won this award but it would not have been possible without a great group of teammates and supportive coaches in Chris and Nat.
“As a league we had many challenges to overcome this season, and as a team we probably had more than most. But as captain of the Lightning, I couldn’t be prouder of how we conducted ourselves this season and we have plenty of positives to take into next year.
“Lastly, to my family, friends and those who have been part of my career over the years, this MVP Award is for you,” expressed Talbot.
The Chemist Warehouse Australian Opal squad member averaged 18.2 points per game plus 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.9 steals. On eleven occasions, Talbot scored in double figures and produced four double doubles, with season game highs of 31 points (vs UC Capitals, November 11) and 30 points (vs Brydens Sydney Uni Flames, November 28).
During the condensed and then revised 13-game regular season, Talbot polled 73 votes to win the award over Jayco Southside Flyers’ superstar Liz Cambage (67 votes) and a trio of Australian Opal squad members – JCU Townsville Fire’s Lauren Nicholson (65), Deakin Melbourne Boomers’ Ezi Magbegor (56) and UC Capitals’ Maddy Rocci (52) – rounding out the Top 5.
The WNBL Player of the Year voting occurs in-confidence at the end of each regular season game where both coaches and the lead referee conduct a 3-2-1 vote. The maximum votes a player can receive in a game is nine (9).
Basketball Australia Head of Women in Basketball Lauren Jackson AO, a four-time league MVP winner herself, congratulated Talbot on her deserved accolades.
“Steph had an outstanding season both individually and as the new captain of the Adelaide Lightning, and is very much deserving of the WNBL’s highest individual honour.
“The quality of basketball played across the entire league this season was of the highest standard and Steph was exceptional at both ends of the court, playing big minutes for her team and always led from the front.
“For Steph to have been voted by the head coaches and lead referees as the league’s Most Valuable Player for 2020 is a reflection of her character, consistency, leadership and individual brilliance across the regular season.
“On behalf of Basketball Australia and the entire league, I would like to congratulate Steph Talbot on behind awarded the Suzy Batkovic Medallist for the league’s Most Valuable Player of 2020,” Jackson said.
2020 WNBL Coach of the Year Winner
Shannon Seebohm (JCU Townsville Fire)
After the JCU Townsville Fire finished bottom of the ladder last season, Seebohm led his side to second position on the 2020 WNBL Chemist Warehouse ladder after the completion of the regular season.
Seebohm polled 28 votes to win from Deakin Melbourne Boomers’ Guy Molloy on 20 votes and Perth Lynx Ryan Petrik on 16 votes.
Each Club Head coach and team captain casts a vote for first, second and third place selections. Each first-place vote is worth three points; each second-place vote is worth two points; and each third-place vote is worth one point. The person with the highest point total, regardless of the number of first-place votes, wins the award.
2020 WNBL Betty Watson Australian Youth Player of the Year Winner
Shyla Heal (JCU Townsville Fire)
Formerly known as Rookie of the Year, honouring one of our greatest ever contributors to the sport, this award underwent a makeover last season with new criteria seeing Australian players 23 years old or under eligible.
JCU Townsville Fire young gun Shyla Heal (25 votes) pipped last season’s recipient Ezi Magbegor of the Deakin Melbourne Boomers by a solidarity vote (24), with UC Capitals’ Maddy Rocci polling 22 votes.
The 19-year-old Opals squad member averaged 15.2 points per game, scoring double digits in all but one game during the regular season, and claimed a season high 27 points vs UC Capitals on December 6. In addition to her scoring ability, Heal averaged 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
This award is selected from a list of eligible players that have been selected by each respective coach. Selected at the end of regular season by coaches and team captains, each of whom casts a vote for first, second and third place selections. Each first-place vote is worth three points; each second-place vote is worth two points; and each third-place vote is worth one point. The person with the highest point total, regardless of the number of first-place votes, wins the award.
2020 WNBL Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Winner
Steph Talbot (Adelaide Lightning)
Named after one of the best defenders our league and Australia has ever seen, Adelaide Lightning’s Steph Talbot collects this gong after yet another outstanding defensive season.
The talented guard, who was exceptional for her team at both ends of the court, claimed 98 defensive rebounds, 25 steals and 10 blocks across the course of the regular season.
Talbot polled 16 votes to win from Perth Lynx captain Katie Ebzery (13 votes) and JCU Townsville Fire’s Lauren Nicholson (12 votes).
Prior to the end of regular season, coaches from each team nominate the two best defensive players within team, then a list is compiled from which each head coach and captain casts a vote for first, second and third place selections. A player from each team must be nominated for the final list. Each first-place vote is worth three points; each second-place vote is worth two points; and each third-place vote is worth one point. The person with the highest point total, regardless of the number of first-place votes, wins the award.
2020 WNBL Gatorade Sixth Woman of The Year Winner
Zitina Aokuso (JCU Townsville Fire)
Introduced last season, the Gatorade Sixth Woman of the Year award celebrates the depth in the Chemist Warehouse WNBL and the incredible talent coming off the bench.
Due to the condensed nature of the 2020 season, the management of players and the strategic use of the bench was pivotal in defining the outcome of games.
JCU Townsville Fire centre Zitina Aokuso was a standout performer for her team and an emerging star of the league polling 19 votes ahead of UC Capitals co-captain Kelsey Griffin on 17 votes, with Brydens Sydney Uni Flames guard Funda Nakkasoglu and the dynamic Steph Reid of the Fire both receiving 13 votes.
Aokuso, returning to action after a serious knee injury sidelined her last season, averaged 9.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game during the 2020 regular season.
Prior to the end of regular season, coaches from each team select the two best sixth player recipients within team, then a list is compiled from which each coach and captain casts a vote for first, second and third place selections. A player from each team must be nominated. Each first-place vote is worth three points; each second-place vote is worth two points; and each third-place vote is worth one point. The person with the highest point total, regardless of the number of first-place votes, wins the award. Players that have started in 50% or more of the games during the season are not eligible for the award.
2020 All-WNBL First and Second Teams
All-WNBL First Team:
Liz Cambage (Jayco Southside Flyers) – 28 votes
Lauren Nicholson (JCU Townsville Fire) – 26 votes
Steph Talbot (Adelaide Lightning) – 24 votes
Katie Ebzery (Perth Lynx) – 21 votes
Cayla George (Deakin Melbourne Boomers) – 17 votes
All-WNBL Second Team:
Ezi Magbegor (Deakin Melbourne Boomers) – 16 votes
Sara Blicavs (Jayco Southside Flyers) – 16 votes
Tess Madgen (Deakin Melbourne Boomers) – 15 votes
Shyla Heal (JCU Townsville Fire) – 12 votes
Maddy Rocci (UC Capitals) – 12 votes
With the challenges created by the pandemic, the 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL season did not feature imports, instead the league has full to the brim of Australia’s best home-grown players, both established and emerging. The eight team rosters contained no less than 18 current Australian Opals squad members, which led to the Opals head coach Sandy Brondello returning to Australia for the WNBL season to observe not only her current athletes but future prospects.
Brondello would have been delighted with what she saw ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and 2021 FIBA Asia Cup, with both the 2020 All-WNBL First and Second teams featuring all Opals squad members.
The two teams are selected by a vote from all coaches and captains at the end of the season from a list of 20 players who received MVP votes during the regular season. Coach and captains select a First team and a Second team, making sure they do not select the same player in each team. Players are to be selected based on their performance throughout the season, and not necessarily by position.