WITHIN moments of stepping out at the Minerdome for the first time, D’Lesha Lloyd became locked in a thrilling battle with Ballarat Rush captain Kate Willey and seamlessly pulled off an impressive lay-up.
The American’s stylish actions sounded her arrival as the most exciting new recruit and Wildcats’ weapon for the Ballarat Basketball Association A-grade women’s championship season.
A lack of A-grade depth encouraged Wildcats Basketball Club to recruit creatively this season.
Wildcats coach Steve Burton found Lloyd, a player with more than three years international exposure, to join his team in an offer that could also help Lloyd maintain her match fitness in strong club competition as she embarks on a string of Women’s National Basketball League try outs.
Lloyd, aged 24, has been based in Melbourne the past three months, playing for the Bulleen Boomers in the Big V League alongside Burton’s daughter Ella.
The Wildcats debuted their new 175-centimetre tall off-guard in a round two clash on Tuesday night against Phoenix and the league’s leading defensive stopper Willey.
“I didn’t feel like I had a lot of chemistry with my team, it was only the first game,” Lloyd said.
“But they played hard.”
Lloyd, from Virginia on the east coast of the United States, played college basketball with Clemson University in the NCAA division one Atlantic Coast Conference – one of the States’ toughest conferences.
After graduating, Lloyd played semi-professional basketball in the US then took her game to Europe, playing in Greece, Germany and Norway.
Wildcats chairman Ray Borner said it was exciting for the club and Ballarat basketball to have a player of Lloyd’s skill and calibre in club competition.
Borner said high-quality players like Lloyd and Rush senior and D-League players strengthened the competition for all players to learn from.
Lloyd will play alongside Rush co-captain Kristy Rinaldi and Wildcats teammates Lauren Phelps, Sarah and Rachel Grawich, Sarah Nicolin and Colby Poole. She is looking for work to move to Ballarat for the season and make the most of her time in the area.
Lloyd said it was the “American dream to come to Australia” and she wanted to play as much basketball out here as possible – at any level.