After playing small roles with the Ballarat Rush across the 2019 NBL1 season, young duo Claire Blower and Annie Collins are set to continue their development with the Bendigo Spirit as part of the team's WNBL academy.
Announced on Sunday evening, the Spirit said the pair "have been identified as players that demonstrate high potential in their skill set, basketball IQ and work ethic that also reflect the same values as our WNBL players."
Collins, 16, said she was overtaken by excitement when she found out the news.
"I was so excited," she said.
"I didn't expect it and I was just really excited... I definitely think it's going to help me improve my individual game and identify and sure up areas I need to work on."
Blower, 22, echoed her teammates sentiments, adding she believes the experience will be very beneficial for her development as a interior player.
"They've got some great coaches and players so if we can interact and learn from them that'll just give us more to bring back to Ballarat," she said.
"I think personally the help they can offer me in my development will be huge."
With the Rush's line-up still uncertain following the departure of Lucy Cochrane and Joy Burke yet to re-commit, Blower said she is ready to take on a bigger role in the 2020 NBL1 season.
"I'd love the opportunity to contribute more than I have in the past few years... obviously we'll feel the loss of Lucy and it's still up in the air whether Joy (Burke) comes back but I want to be ready to get more minutes."
While the duo are the only two current Ballarat players heading to Bendigo, former Rush players Casey Burton and Abbey Wehrung are both members of the Spirit's WNBL team.
Burton will join the club as a developmental player for the 2019/20 WNBL season after impressing in the NBL1 with the Melbourne Tigers.
Wehrung re-signed with the Spirit after a great 2018/19 WNBL season where she averaged 10.33 points, 2.57 rebounds, 2.38 assists and 31 minutes a game.
Blower said it will be good to have a few familiar faces around the club while her and Collins are in Bendigo.
"It'll be great to see them, we still talk about basketball when we can and look to help each other so having them there will be really good for both of us."
Elsewhere fellow Rush youngster Georgia Amoore has continued her impressive run of late, top scoring for the NBL1 All-Stars in an exhibition game against the Melbourne Boomers on Saturday night. The 18-year-old scored 15 points in the 81-70 loss.
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