JCU Townsville Fire championship winner Zitina Aokuso has signed a two-year contract extension to remain in North Queensland.
Widely regarded as one of the nation’s most exciting young prospects, the under-19 Australian representative, who stood on the dais at the end of her debut professional season, will remain with the Fire until at least 2019/20 after putting pen to paper with the reigning WNBL champions.
“I’m looking forward to coming back to the Fire for so many reasons,” Aokuso said.
“Getting a dose of the awesome atmosphere at Townsville Stadium on game days, being coached for a second season by Claudia (Brassard) and playing alongside the greatest veterans (made it enticing).
“Last season was my rookie year and it was the greatest experience I have had in my basketball career to date. Experiencing my first ever WNBL championship was a blessing and I am pretty hungry for more of those experiences.
“Lastly, I’ve got a few new dance moves that I would love to share with the Ville.”
While the 19-year-old set tongues wagging when a video of her slam dunking at an Australian camp went viral, Aokuso demonstrated that she was more than just an internet fad during her debut season.
In limited minutes, Aokuso averaged 2.7 points and 2.1 rebounds, showing her athleticism on a number of occasions including an impressive showing against Liz Cambage and the Melbourne Boomers.
“We’re excited to have Zitina returning for a further two seasons,” Brassard said.
“We believe she has a higher ceiling than most young forwards in Australia and will continue to develop within our system.
“She’s a really exciting prospect and will continue to improve as she battles the likes of Suzy Batkovic and Darcee Garbin at training every day.”
Aokuso joins championship winning teammates Micaela Cocks, Batkovic and Garbin on the Fire’s roster for next season, along with boom recruit Tess Madgen.
The Fire are expected to unveil a sixth recruit later this week.