THE Bendigo Spirit has secured the signature of one of the most highly sought after Australian players returning from a college career in the United States.Former country Victoria junior representative and Australian Institute of Sport graduate Hanna Zavecz will suit up for the Spirit in 2008-09.Bendigo Spirit head coach Bernie Harrower tipped the versatile forward would have an immediate effect in the Women’s National Basketball League."Hanna was a stand-out country Victoria junior, spent time at the AIS and has had an excellent college career," Harrower said."All these things will stand Hanna in good stead to establish herself as a very good WNBL player, and she will bring a lot to the Bendigo Spirit."It’s a real coup for us to have signed Hanna, because several other clubs were interested in recruiting her."Bendigo Spirit is seeking players like Hanna who went through the country Victoria system as juniors and now have the opportunity to play for provincial Victoria’s only WNBL team.Zavecz represented country Victoria at the under-16 and under-18 National Junior Championships.She has spent the past four years at the University of Wyoming.In her final season at Wyoming, Zavecz led her team in scoring (14ppg), rebounding (6.1rpg) assists (3.6apg), blocked shots (48) and steals (47).Zavecz said she was looking forward to being part of the Bendigo Spirit and is hoping to arrive in Bendigo in mid-August."It’s a great opportunity to come back and play for a team that’s based in regional Victoria and has such strong community support."I’m also looking forward to meeting the team and reuniting with some old friends like Gabe Richards, who I played with as a junior."The Spirit had a really solid first season in the league and hopefully we can build on that success next year."Spirit general manager Wendy James said the signing of Zavecz was exciting for the club as it continued to secure community and sponsorship support in preparation for the 2008-09 season."The Victorian Government sponsorship of the team, as part of its Make It Happen In Provincial Victoria campaign, has ensured the ability of the Spirit to attract key players such as Hanna back to our regional area to continue their basketball careers."We now hold the powerful ability to support our players from juniors through to the elite level of representing Australia, without losing them as locals."Ms James said the Spirit was working hard to continue strengthening its business operations and everyone was excited by the interest in the team’s second season. Organisations are encouraged to contact Ms James to discuss sponsorship and branding initiatives.