The college basketball season is fast approaching, and like with the men, we have some talented Australian women set to grace the NCAA hardwood for the very first time.
We take a look at the top five Australian freshmen women heading into the upcoming NCAA season.
Edit: Danijela Milisic was originally listed at #5, however she has been confirmed as being in the class of 2016. Instead we have elevated Sara Anastasieska to the top 5 in her place.
5 | Sara ANASTASIESKA | Texas-San Antonio
As a dynamic 5'11 guard, Sara Anastasieska will bring high energy to the Roadrunners this coming season.
Playing for Norths Basketball Association in North Sydney, Anastasieska was a member of the Australian U17 Women’s squad that competed in the 2013 FIBA Oceania U16 Championship for Women. She also played an integral role for NSW Metro squad at last year's U18 Australian Junior Championships before returning again at the U20 event in 2015.
Anastasieska has become known for her hustle and aggressive play at both ends of the court. Able to create off the dribble, she also has demonstrated an ability to connect from beyond the arc to keep defenders honest. She is sure to make an immediate impression in her first year and is definitely a player to keep a look out for.
4 | Rachel ANTONIADOU | Florida State
The 5’9 point guard out of Victoria will add smarts and experience to the Seminoles this coming season after spending the past 3 years with Dandenong's SEABL and WNBL teams.
Antoniadou helped lead Victoria to the U20’s Australian Junior Championship earlier this year, as well as playing a key role for the Australian U19 Women’s squad in the FIBA Oceania U19 Championships for Women at the end of last year. She was unlucky to miss out on the Gem's squad this year and will be out to make an immediate contribution to her new team this season.
With an ability to play at high speed plus a reliable knock-down shooter, she is another first year Aussie to keep an eye out for this coming season.
3 | Madeleine DENNIS | Dayton
An Australian representative at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships who won a bronze medal, Maddy Dennis will be looking to step into an immediate role with the Flyers this coming season.
The 6'2 forward from Western Australia is yet another talented Aussie looking to make their mark in the NCAA. While Dayton boasts talent at her position, Dennis is has the capability to work her way into the main rotation and make a difference with her size and well-rounded game. Her international experience will play in her favour as the Flyers look to return to the NCAA Tournament.
2 | Megan MCKAY | Saint Mary's
With great size and strength, the 6'3 Megan McKay from the Perry Lake Hawks in Western Australia will provide a sizable boost for the Gaels who continue to tap into the Australian pipeline of talent.
McKay brings to Moraga an already impressive post game, one she used to great effect in helping guide Western Australia to the 2015 Australian U20 National Championship game. This followed an outstanding U18 Australian Junior Championship a year earlier, where she posted 20.8 points and 15 rebounds per game.
Having also previously represented her country at the U17 FIBA Oceania Women’s Championships in 2013, McKay's size and experience is sure to place her in a great position to make an impact with the Gaels in her first season.
1 | Alanna SMITH | Stanford
Such is the talent of Alanna Smith, she arrives in Stanford as their first ever women's international recruit, and she is unlikely to disappoint.
Smith boasts an impeccable pedigree with a father who played professionally in the Australian NBL and SEABL for well over a decade and an uncle who captained the senior national team. However Smith has been making a name for herself.
The dynamic forward excelled at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships where she earned selection to the All-Star 5 after leading her country to a bronze medal. Her performances on the world stage in 2015 followed an outstanding 2014 FIBA Oceania U18 Championships where she was also the tournament standout.
Quite simply, Smith is the complete package. She can rebound, defend, block shots, run the floor and score efficiently; a future Australian Opal in the making.
Expect Smith be the standout Aussie freshman in NCAA Division I hoops this season.
Click here for a complete listing of the Australians playing Division 1 basketball this season.