The Perth Redbacks are thrilled to welcome back Ella Thornton-Elliott for NBL1 2021.
2020 was a year of big jumps for Ella. Coming off an ACL reconstruction in 2019, she was not only jumping back into elite basketball, she was jumping up to SBL.
As she recollects, it was both a baptism of fire and an exciting introduction to the world of pro basketball:
“For the 2020 West Coast Classic, we had a hard game straight off the bat playing Joondalup. When I went out on the court I was playing against some really big and experienced players like Kayla Steindl and Amber Land. Then I got bodied to the ground straight away and I knew this was big girls basketball and I had to get going. It was really exciting at the same time because I want to play professionally, and it was a realisation that I was one step closer to getting there.
With imports not being able to play West Coast Classic, it allowed us younger local players to get more minutes and it was really good to get to bond with the regular players on that level in my first season.
No imports also helped us to grow together as a team and to get some minutes into some of our other young players. I think that’s been good for the club as a whole. We’re a lot stronger because of that whole situation so it worked out for the best and now we should be even better when we add those imports back in.”
For the Redbacks, Mak Dyer is the import who’s been added back in. What’s it like going up against Mak at training?
“It’s good and we are playing together mostly on the same team so I’m getting to know her on that level. Just seeing how she works is really amazing and I’m looking forward to playing this season with her. The times I’ve gone against have been really hard and I’ve been caught already on the back cuts. She is really unpredictable but learning from her will help my game develop because of how experienced she is. She’s here to teach us and I’m here to learn.”
Coach Craig Allen is looking forward to seeing Ella go to another level in 2021:
“It’s going to be an interesting year for Ella. The second year back after doing your ACL is always when you are stronger and more confident, and can progress a lot more. She is a young kid who has only turned 17 and she has a whole heap of progression and development ahead of her. She’s also an integral part of that young group for us going forward.”
NBL1 Director Nathan Barns is also excited Ella has committed for 2021:
“In her first taste at SBL level with the Redbacks last season we saw continued strong development in Ella’s game. I know she puts in a huge amount of effort off the court and this is starting to show in her ability to shoot the long ball but also back it up with some strong work under the ring. We are looking forward to seeing this development continue in 2021 as our youth start to push our starters and give the Redbacks some real depth.”
As for Ella, she’s excited by the extra exposure SBL and its players will receive with the move to NBL1:
“It will be something really good for WA and it will obviously give us a bit more recognition. I’m excited to have that much bigger platform with the live streams and more exposure. NBL1 is something bigger and better so it will be good.”