Stacey Barr aiming for WNBL return

Stacey Barr may not have been one of the most heralded Australians to to head to college, but by the end of her four years at Idaho, she returned home to Australia as one of the most decorated NCAA players from down under at that time.

She enjoyed a phenomenal college career with Idaho and collected a long list of awards and accolades. She was named 2012-13 WAC Tournament MVP after guiding the Vandals to the NCAA Tournament, backing up a year later to earn WAC Player of the Year alongside a second straight conference tournament MVP award. She would go on to average a career-best 21.3 points per game as a senior, ranking first in the Big Sky and 13th in the NCAA in her final year en-route to being named All-Australian Player of the Year. One would have thought a WNBL career would blossom upon her grad. However for whatever reason, her undeniable scoring ability and hard-nosed style of play has not yet had a chance to flourish at that level.

While Barr enjoyed a stint with the Perth Lynx in the 2015/16 WNBL season, she saw little action and was unable to break into the main rotation. She set about improving her game in the WA State Basketball League, while also taking up the chance to play AFL Women's football with Fremantle like so many other current and former basketballers.

In speaking with The Pick and Roll, Barr was clear on where her focus lies moving forward.

“I’d love to be able to play both [sports],” explained Barr. “Monique Conti has been pretty successful [as an example in excelling at both sports], however basketball is my main focus.”

That focus has seen Barr re-evaluate her pathway back to the WNBL, or even land her a deal in Europe for next season. She made the move back to Melbourne and take up a roster berth with the Frankston Blues in the SEABL where she has been a revelation so far in 2018.

“I’m now back in Melbourne which is nice, closer to family but also a new challenge,” added Barr.

“[In coming to Frankston] I just wanted to play at the highest level I could while being able to challenge myself. In speaking with Frankston and Simon [Mitchell] I felt like it was a really good fit.

“The SEABL is very strong, and I had only played in the Big V before I went to college, so I had heard good things and wanted to give it a go. Compared to the SBL [in WA], there are more WNBL teams playing in Melbourne. While there are some fantastic players in WA, it does not filter down to being as strong as as competition like the SEABL.”

With players like Perth Lynx and Seattle Storm star Sami Whitcomb lighting up the SBL, Barr was keeping good company while also impressing in her own right. The shooting guard poured in over 24 points and 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game for Willeton last season. To demonstrate her explosive scoring capabilities, she contributed 20 or more points on 15 occasions, including an incredible 52 point outing against the Lakeside Lightning and another 43 point clinic against the Perry Lakes Hawks.

While Barr played down her individual exploits, she brings to the Blues much-needed scoring, three-point shooting, toughness, and a winning mentality. Since joining the luckless Blues, Barr has been nothing short of brilliant.

Despite suffering a concussion late in her opening game for the Blues against Nunawading, she has been able to average an impressive 22.4 points (6th in the league), 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. While the Blues remain without a win, it is hard to see how they will not start winning such is the talent that Mitchell has assembled, including import duo Toccara Ross and Shereesha Richards with rising star Lana Hollingsworth. The latter is set to follow Barr’s path to college with Boston College later this year.

“It was a really good four years,” enthused Barr in reminiscing about her time at college with the Vandals. “It was a wonderful experience. Anyone considering going should give it a go.

“I have not talked too much about it with Lana [Hollingsworth] yet, she has asked some questions though. It is getting close and very exciting for her. One thing that American coaches really appreciate is our [Australian] work ethic. She should do really well.”

While Hollingsworth’s college career beckons, Barr is firmly focused on the SEABL season ahead with a long-term view to enhancing her all-round game and ultimately her resume with a view to the WNBL or playing in Europe.

"While I played at Fremantle, and really loved living in Perth, what I do next will all come down to what opportunities present themselves with basketball, explained Barr.

“Having Simon helping me this year is a plus. I’m aiming to improve my efficiency as a guard, while also being able to play the point as much as being able to score. Defensively, I am focused on working on all aspect of my game, and I know I will get a great chance to improve.

“I would love to try and get an opportunity to play in Europe, or to be able to play in both the WNBL and AFLW which would be ideal. However basketball is my main focus and that is what I am working on.”

WNBL teams would be wise to check in on Barr this SEABL season.

Stacey Barr and the Frankston Blues host the Melbourne Tigers on 20 May 2018 with tip-off at 1:30pm AEST. You can watch the game live thanks to Frankston Blues Media below.