Basketball: Rush signs Townsville Fire sharpshooter Stephanie Cumming

HEAD coach Peter Cunningham believes Australian representative Steph Cumming’s experience and no-nonsense approach will be critical to the development of Ballarat Rush’s young roster in the South East Australian Basketball League this season.

Rush yesterday announced the recruiting of the Opal and Townsville Fire guard.

The 23-year-old, who played with Frankston in the SEABL last year, is the last major signing for Auslec Rush.

She joins US import Nya Mason, who is scheduled to arrive back in Australia later this week for a second season with Ballarat, as a restricted player.

Cumming fills the vacancy left by Opals squad member Alice Kunek, who had just the one year with Rush.

She debuted withe the Opals in 2011 after representing Australia in the 2009 world under-19 championship and then last year claimed a bronze medal with the Emerging Opals at the World University Games.

Cunningham said it was imperative with a young squad to have senior players with strong on and off-court leadership qualities to complement Kristy Rinaldi and Mason.

He said Ballarat Basketball Club had been in negotiations with Cummings for a while.

“It was important to get the right person,” he said.

Rush is putting a focus on young Ballarat talent this year, with the likes of Bronte Clark, Abbey Wehrung and Kasey Burton among those being given the opportunity to step up.

Ash Stonehouse is another talented youngster returning to the fold after missing last season after knee surgey.

Cumming, who is originally from Melbourne, will make the move to Ballarat after lining up for Townsville against Bendigo Spirit in Sunday’s WNBL grand final at Bendigo.

She was one of the stars in Fire’s win over Dandenong in the preliminary final on Sunday, scoring a team-high 15 points.

Cumming joins Rush as a prolific scorer.

Cumming was the SEABL’s second highest scorer with Frankston last season, averaging 24 points.

She also averaged five rebounds and three assists, and led the competition in two-point and three-point shooting percentages.

Cumming made her WNBL debut with her home team Dandenong Rangers in 2006-07.

She spent the next two seasons with the AIS before returning to Dandenong in 2009.

Cumming moved to Townsville this season and is averaging 11.6 points a game.

Rush opens its season against Brisbane Spartans in Brisbane on Saturday, March 29.

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