A FAMILIAR face is returning to Bendigo for the 2020 NBL1 season.
The Braves have landed the prize signature of rising basketball star Cassidy McLean, who will make her debut in the second-tier national competition.
McLean previously represented the Bendigo Spirit during the 2018-19 WNBL season, following two seasons with the Sydney Uni Flames.
The 20-year-old has been sidelined during the current WNBL season while recovering from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, sustained in a Waratah Basketball League game back home in Newcastle last March.
But despite the setback, McLean declared herself a definite starter for the Braves' season opener later in the year.
A member of the world championship-winning under-17 Australian Sapphires team in 2016, McLean views success in the NBL1 competition as the best chance of reigniting her WNBL career.
She declared her signing with the Braves as 'a no-brainer'.
"Because I have been down there before, I have an appreciation for how good the facilities are in Bendigo," McLean said.
"The Braves have a really great program and I think it will be the perfect for for me.
"As this will be my first season in the NBL1, I thought why not go back to Bendigo.
"I know the NBL1 is ultra-competitive and there are a lot of WNBL players suiting up, so I'll be getting the chance to play against some of the best players in the country.
"It's a great pathway to other things, especially getting back into the WNBL."
McLean has fond memories of her first stint in Bendigo and is expecting her season to be even better, given the strength of the Bendigo women' program.
The move back to central Victoria will reacquaint Cassidy with new Braves coach Mark Alabakov, who was an assistant at the Flames during her second season in 2017-18, alongside current Spirit coach Tracy York.
"Having been in Bendigo before and knowing how strong the Braves usually are, it certainly didn't take any convincing to come back," the guard said.
Alabakov was high in his praise for McLean, who is the Braves' first official signing for the 2020 season.
"We think she's a talented athlete with a bright future and are excited by the prospect of what she could become with continued on and off court investment in her game," he said.
"Most importantly, Cass's work ethic, character and genuine love of the game fits the culture we want to build here.'
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