NADEEN Payne’s best season in her 10-year WNBL career has earned her a win in Bendigo Spirit’s Most Valuable Player award for season 2017-18.
The Townsville-born 24-year-old was a clear standout on a Spirit team, which ended their season in last place with a 4-17 record.
Payne, who represented Australia at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup during the WNBL pre-season, averaged career highs in points (12.09), assists (2.05) and steals (0.76).
She averaged 3.95 rebounds per game and was the team’s undoubted leader at the defensive end of the court.
Payne scored a season-high 24 points in an October win over championship favourites Perth Lynx, easily the Spirit’s most impressive win for the season.
Payne will continue her association with Bendigo, with the exciting forward set to play her first season with the SEABL-affiliated Lady Braves, under Spirit assistant coach Megan Moody.
The 2017-18 season was Payne’s second with the Spirit following previous stints with South East Queensland Stars, Adelaide Lightning, Townsville Fire and the AIS.
Coach Simon Pritchard’s award was won by seventh-year player Heather Oliver.
The 30-year-old guard, who played college ball at the University of Southern California, produced a strong season, despite missing a group of games towards the end of the season with a calf strain.
Oliver averaged 4.12 points per game, a career high 3.88 rebounds per game and 1.35 assists.
Her 0.76 steals average was the best of her career.
The award capped an impressive haul for Oliver in 2017. She also won the league and her club’s BFNL netball best and fairest awards and was the MVP for her Victorian Netball League club Melbourne University Lightning.
In other awards, Ebony Rolph’s third and best season in the league delivered her the players’ award, while Gabe Richards was presented with a game ball for her 2000th WNBL rebound.