The Final Whistle | Tipping off with a bang

The 2020 Big V season is now only a month away, so what better time to take a look at what’s to come when we’re faced with Round 1 fixtures.

The Big V off-season is an incredibly long and drawn out process. You witness recruitment happening right in front of your eyes all the way back to the Big V Awards Night (and beyond).

Pre-Season begins in October for some clubs, wanting to continue to build on what they could or couldn’t achieve in 2019 and not allowing residual fitness to waiver.

For others, the real stuff is just starting to kick in. Coming back off a healthy Christmas break and preparing for a host of practice games before Round 1 on March 14/15.

So where is your team at? Where are all the big names heading and who are the early favourites for the championship?

Below you’ll find some key names we’ve identified who are set to light up Big V in season 2020, some of whom have swapped colours, others who you’ll quickly remember their name.

We’ve also highlighted squads that will have the early spotlight put on them thanks to an outstanding off-season.

The Movers

The biggest mover of the off-season would have to be the former Championship Men MVP in Nelson Kirksey. After two stellar seasons at Hawthorn, where he lifted the highest individual award in 2018, has made the move to wear similar colours at Hume City. He’s joined there by another high volume scorer in Rachel Bell who makes the move across from Whittlesea’s Championship Women’s program. Leland King is the Broncos latest announcement, pairing up with Kirksey in hopes for another tilt at a grand final berth.

Speaking of Championship Women, the biggest mover in that division would have to be the Casey Cavaliers as a whole. They’ve kept just one player from their 2019 campaign (Rachel Winters) and have therefore recruited a truckload. Kym Royster and Shereesha Richards lead the line as their two import signees, however they’ve also added local talents Ella Fotu, Taylor Lee and Milly Ivanov.

On the male side of things, the Cavs have replaced Brandon Polk with Jordan Coleman who has now produced for three years in the league across multiple divisions.

Rounding out Championship Men movers, Trevon Clayton returns from a year off to rep the Hawthorn Magic threads, while former Latrobe City and Warrnambool import Aaron Harrison has landed at Wyndham (formerly Werribee).

Elsewhere, Matt Bartlett returns to Shepparton after a short hiatus. Former Coburg import Saule Kontautaite takes her talents to Whittlesea. Up and coming star Casey Valenti-Paea continues to develop her career now at Keilor. Pakenham bring in a familiar name in Lester Strong while also adding Tarryn Wilkin to their women’s side and finally Western Port secure former Keysborough big man Naaman Hightower.

Remember The Name

There are always plenty of fresh names to take notice of throughout the early rounds of Big V. Need a taste of what’s to come even before teams hit the floor for the first time, look no further than a regenerated Sunbury Jets Championship Women’s line-up.

Ida Andersson hasn’t hit the court in over a year since coming out of Barry University, however she’s been putting in the work out of sight with the Southside Flyers in preparation for getting the call up. The Jets answered the call while down here supporting fiancé in NBL star John Roberson. Andersson will team up with a familiar name to Big V fans in former Waverley guard Samantha Donald.

Bulleen signalled their intent when announcing WNBL star Kate Gaze will suit up for the Boomers in Big V 2020. She’ll carry a heavy load for an association once loaded with talent. She could just be the first piece of the puzzle to put them back into playoff contention in the coming years.

Blackburn made waves over the off-season with a couple of hefty signings in Chris Patton and Ryan Vines. Patton comes off an NBL1 season with Kilsyth, while Vines is the one to keep your eye on after making his way south from the South West Metro Pirates of the QBL.

Leaving arguably the biggest new signing until last, Western Port have recruited a former Big V champion and star shooter in Scottie Stone. The former Hawk will look to replicate Daryl Corletto’s shooting prowess down at the Steelerdome.

Early Signs

It’s never easy to get anything correct at the beginning of a Big V season, however there are quite clearly a few associations who have made their intentions clear across the course of the past few months.

Wyndham are looking to go back-to-back in Championship Women and have added the likes of Ebony Rolph and Ieva Nagy, among others, to replace the major loss of both Sarah Elsworthy and Alisia Jenkins.

Speaking of champions, how does the McKinnon Cougars refresh after losing key pieces themselves? Is the trio of JT Terrell, Troy Temara and Jordan Swopshire going to lead them back to the grand final?

There could be a major men’s signing out at Keilor if everything goes to plan, however it sounds like they also may have lost a few key pieces to their puzzle from last season. The Chelsea Gulls on the other hand look to have strengthened their roster and will be an interesting proposition as to who trundles out for them on opening night.

Who comes through the youth system of respective programs and stamps their claims on the senior divisions? We’ve seen time and time again players either age out or make the jump early to turn their club into a team of the future.

It’s always fun talking about the potential happenings and what’s to come in preparation for the Big V season, however the proof is in the pudding; guess we’ll find out on March 14!

The Final Whistle is an opinion column written by Steve Chalmers and all comments and opinions are his own and not a reflection of the leagues.

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