After spending six years living and playing basketball overseas, firstly at South Dakota University in the United States followed by one season for AZS AJP Gorzow Wielkopolski in Poland Nicole Seekamp returned to Australia in late July 2017 to play for Adelaide Lightning in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) in 2017/18. South Australian Seekamp had previously played two seasons as a teenager off the bench in the WNBL for the AIS in 2009/10 and for the Adelaide Lightning in 2010/11. In a whirlwind two and a bit years since her return to Adelaide Seekamp has achieved several milestones including winning Adelaide’s 2017/18 MVP award, being part of the Australian Opals gold medal winning team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, getting engaged shortly after receiving her gold medal, being named Adelaide’s co-captain for the 2018/19 WNBL season and being a crucial member of the Adelaide team that made the finals for the first time since 2012/13. Adelaide made the Grand Final despite being seventh on the ladder in the eight team league on 25th November 2018, the same day that Seekamp and her team-mates learnt that Adelaide’s future beyond the 2018/19 season was uncertain.
In her first season playing as a starter in the WNBL with the Adelaide Lightning Seekamp flourished with the responsibility and the opportunity to display her versatility playing as a combo guard to rank third in the WNBL for both assists and steals per game in 2017/18.
With her superb leadership and high standard of play Adelaide Lightning co-captain Nicole Seekamp displayed remarkable poise both on and off the court to play a critical role in her team being able to play for the WNBL Championship in the final game of the 2018/19 season despite the club facing threats of extinction. In game 2 of the Grand Final series against the University of Canberra Capitals Seekamp scored a team-high 18 points and made the match winning basket in the final play of the game. During 2018/19 Seekamp led the WNBL for steals and ranked second for assists behind Kelly Wilson.
In her WNBL career to date 27 year old Seekamp has played 78 games comprised of 18 for the Australian Institute of Sport and 60 games for the Adelaide Lightning. On signing to play a third consecutive WNBL season with the Adelaide Lightning in 2019/20 Seekamp commented “We want to go one step further next season. I think I’m a pretty loyal person and I grew up always wanting to play for Lightning. It’s hard for me to leave this place and to start with another team.”1
Seekamp’s basketball career with South Dakota University, the Adelaide Lightning and the Australian Opals is comprehensively covered below.
Nicole Seekamp was born on 26th April 1992 in Renmark which is a South Australian town approximately 255 kilometres north-east of Adelaide. Nicole grew up in a basketball family with parents, dad Alan (Frosty), mum Charmaine and two older brothers. When Nicole was in her early years at high school her family travelled to Adelaide on weekends to enable her to train and play with a basketball team.
Nicole moved away from home to live with her aunty and uncle in Adelaide when she was 14 years old, enabling her to attend Brighton Secondary School and play basketball with Sturt. Seekamp made her WNBL debut at 17 years of age in 2009/10 for the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), playing 18 games for the season, averaging 3.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. The AIS finished last on the ladder in the 10 team WNBL with one win and 21 losses, and a percentage of 59.9, one game behind the ninth placed Perth and five games behind Logan in eighth place. Nicole’s team-mates at the AIS included Sara Blicavs, Tess Madgen, Tayla Roberts, Gretel Tippet, Nadeen Payne, Alice Kunek, Carley Mijovic, Rebecca Cole, Tessa Lavey, Olivia Thompson and Alex Bunton. Nicole represented the Australian Gems at the 2010 FIBA Oceania Under-18 Championships in Palmerston, New Zealand.
During the 2010/11 WNBL season Nicole played 13 games for Adelaide, averaging 5.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Seekamp’s teammates at Adelaide included Angela Marino, Mia Murray (Newley), DeMya Walker, Emma Langford and Tegan Cunningham.
In February 2011 Seekamp captained South Australia in the Under 20 National Championships, averaging 12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. Seekamp had a dream tournament, winning the MVP award and leading her state to the National Championship.
Nicole’s family were influential in her starting to play basketball and later on deciding to attend college in the United States. Nicole comments “I used to play another sport called netball when I was young but decided basketball just because I could experience the world more, go out and represent my country in the Olympics if I wanted to do that or go overseas like I have. And my family all played basketball so that was a big influence as well. My oldest brother was almost going to come to America when he was growing up and chose not to so when I was thinking about it I wasn’t really sure that this is what I wanted but he told me I should try it and if I didn’t like it I could always leave. I decided to try it and it was a good decision.”2
College career with South Dakota Coyotes from 2011/12 to 2015/16
In a bold move Nicole decided to attend South Dakota University despite having never been to South Dakota and knowing very little about the area. A key reason in making the move was relationships that Seekamp had built previously. Despite it being far colder in South Dakota than she expected and being unable to play any games in her first year at the University it was an environment and a program that Seekamp thrived in and when her time at South Dakota came to end she had made an indelible mark on the history books and had one of the greatest women’s basketball careers in the history of the school.
Ryan Larsen who at the time was an assistant at South Dakota under Ryun Williams played a key role in recruiting Seekamp, even visiting her in Australia during the recruiting campaign. On her decision to attend South Dakota and her discussions with Larsen Seekamp commented “We talked for a couple of years, I didn’t really want to come over for the first year because I wanted to go home for a little bit since I had already lived away from home. But then I decided to come over here based on the fact that I forged a good relationship with him and I thought the people were really kind. I actually didn’t look at South Dakota and didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But when I got over here I didn’t mind it because I’m from a small town about the size of Vermillion so it was an easy transition from that standpoint.”3
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) ruled that Seekamp had to sit out her freshman 2011/12 season with South Dakota to meet eligibility requirements due to her prior amateur experience in Australia.
Amy Williams was appointed as head coach of South Dakota before the 2012/13 season and had over a decade’s experience coaching US College women’s basketball team’s, first of all as an assistant coach at a couple of college’s followed by five seasons as head coach at Rogers State University.
Playing as a guard Seekamp started all 35 games for South Dakota in 2012/13, leading the team in scoring and steals, ranked second for assists and third for minutes played.
Throughout her career at South Dakota Seekamp was very durable and consistent, having only one season when she played less than 34 games – 2013/14 when she played 28 games, missed five games due to a foot injury and starting on the bench in another three games – the only time during her career at South Dakota that she didn’t start.
Due to 2011/12 being a red-shirt season it was thought that 2014/15 would be Seekamp’s final season of college basketball. South Dakota had appealed the NCAA’s decision on several occasions in an attempt for Seekamp to gain another year of eligibility but had been unsuccessful, however eventually the NCAA granted her a fourth year of eligibility in 2015/16. Nicole recalls “I just remember that I had a deep breath of relief and I was just like phewf, finally I know what I am going to be doing.” Seekamp had to miss the first two games but was then eligible to play the remainder of the 2015/16 season. Nicole comments “Two games is nothing, that’s what I thought then at that point, I was thinking that 10 games would be nothing. I am thankful that that wasn’t the end for me or my teammates and I think that kind of was a motivator for this year when I did find out that I got my year back, I think we are all a little bit re-focussed and we didn’t want that to happen again.” South Dakota had a very strong group of seniors on their team. Seekamp led the Coyotes to a 15-1 conference record in 2015/16 and a second straight summit league title with the team reaching the tournament championship game for the fourth straight year and set a program record 16 game winning streak.
On Saturday April 2nd, 2016 South Dakota were the first summit league team in any sport to win a national tournament, winning the WNIT title. During the tournament Seekamp played six games, averaging 14 points, eight assists and five rebounds, being named the tournament’s most valuable player. Nicole comments on South Dakota winning the title, “Once the buzzer went off we were like wow we actually did it. Our whole season this is what its come to and we managed to finish it successfully and I think everyone felt that kind of pride in USD and with the women’s basketball team. It’s just something that I am definitely going to remember for the rest of my life, just to look back on that in a few years is going to be amazing.”
University of South Dakota head coach Amy Williams commented on Nicole “What people don’t see and what has continued to amaze me throughout her career is watching her behind the scenes and practice and the way she puts her arms around our freshmen and talks and teaches and allows me as a head coach to be able to move forward, move on to the next drill, continue with practice because she’s going to take care of cleaning up some of the teaching points that need to be made. It is just such an incredible treat for our coaching staff to have that fifth coach out there helping us develop the younger classmen.”
Seekamp graduated from South Dakota in 2016 ranked second on the university’s all-time list for points scored (2,056), assists (628) and steals (265). Seekamp was exceptional in her final season for the South Dakota Coyotes in 2015/16, being named the Summit League Player of the Year and played a critical role in the Coyotes winning their first national postseason title, enabling South Dakota to progress to the NCAA tournament. During 2015/16 Nicole averaged 15.9 points, 6.4 assists, 2.4 steals and 30.0 minutes per game whilst also providing great leadership, brought her teammates into the play and was a superb defender. During her four seasons at South Dakota from 2012/13 to 2015/16 Seekamp played 133 games including a South Dakota record 130 games as a starter, averaging 15.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.0 steals and 29.8 minutes per game during her college career.
Seekamp had a decorated college career becoming just the third player league history to win the Summit League Tournament MVP twice – 2012/13 and 2014/15. Nicole was named in the first-team of the All-Summit league in 2014/15 and 2015/16 and graduated from college with a major in Psychology and a minor in Coaching.
On her time at South Dakota University Seekamp commented “I couldn’t have chosen a better place. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to experience this and the five years here were awesome, I met so many great people and the coaches and teammates were the best I could ever have imagined. I’m going to miss it a lot.”4
2016/17 season with AZS AJP Gorzow Wielkopolski in Poland
Nicole played one season with AZS AJP Gorzow Wielkopolski in Poland in 2016/17 and when she appeared as a feature guest on the Medco Sports network program ‘Benchwarmers’ on 6 July 2017 was asked “What was the experience like playing professionally in Poland?” Nicole responded “It was different. I was in a town of about one hundred and forty thousand people, because it was winter my vision of it is just grey, the buildings are really old, there’s like no sunshine. Getting around was kind of tough because not a lot of people spoke English, only about 30% of the people spoke English there.”
Nicole commented “The basketball side of it there, competition, yeah the league was pretty good, its just different, their style of coaching and all that kind of stuff. It was definitely an experience for my rookie year, I kind of felt like I had an inconsistent year personally, still wasn’t terrible, but I think just going from four years of college where you like have a family to going somewhere where I don’t know anyone, can’t speak the language.” On the different language Nicole commented “The coach is initially from Russia but he can speak Polish and Russian and then a little bit of English. He could speak English terms for basketball but sometimes what he thought he was trying to say wasn’t really what it meant in English, so I was like ‘alright I’ll pick up on it eventually’. We had one teammate who spoke really good English so I could have a conversation normally with her but then she wouldn’t get some of the slang terms that I would use.”
One of Seekamp’s teammates at AZS AJP in Poland for the 2016/17 season was fellow South Australian Steph Talbot who represented Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games. In a game that Talbot missed late in the season Seekamp thrived, having 16 points, 12 assists and five rebounds in a two point loss to Artego Blyd.
2017/18 WNBL season with the Adelaide Lightning
Appearing as a guest host on USA Medco Sports network TV program ‘Benchwarmers’ on 6th July 2017 Seekamp was asked about returning to play in Australia for the Adelaide Lightning in the 2017/18 WNBL season. Seekamp commented “I used to live there for a couple of years before I came to college so I am really excited to get back home, it’s been seven years since I have lived back in Australia so it is going to be nice to just be around family and friends for a little bit. I will be living about 5-10 minutes drive from the beach and it will be summer so I am not complaining.”
During the 2016/17 WNBL season Adelaide had only three wins for the entire season and in the off-season there were doubts about whether the club could survive financially. A new ownership group Adelaide Basketball took over the license of the Adelaide Lightning and this move together with sponsorship by the Motor Accident Commission (MAC) enabled Adelaide Lightning to continue.
In 2017/18 Chris Lucas was in his second season in a row as Adelaide’s head coach, having also coached the club for 88 games in the mid 2000’s. In between his two stints as Adelaide head coach Chris was the head coach of the Townsville Fire for five seasons from 2011/12 to 2015/16 with the club winning the WNBL Championship in his last two seasons as head coach.
On recruiting Seekamp for Adelaide’s 2017/18 WNBL season Lucas commented in a press release “I’m really excited to have Nicole as a part of our team this season. She’s an athlete with a great work ethic who is always looking to improve her game. She will bring versatility to the player group, both offensively and defensively. Her personality is exactly what we are looking for in terms of our team culture and chemistry that we are building.”5
Adelaide had to overcome a setback in the pre-season when head coach Chris Lucas was diagnosed with kidney cancer in early September. Lucas had surgery to remove a 2.5 kilogram tumour and after missing the first three games of the 2017/18 regular season made his return as Adelaide’s head coach.
Seekamp offered the Adelaide Lightning versatility in 2017/18, having the ability to play as a point guard or a shooting guard on offense, at 178 centimetres tall and having strong defensive skills she could also defend either guard position or even small forwards if required. Aimie Clydesdale was more suited to playing as a point guard and American import Natalie Novosel was stronger as a shooting guard so Seekamp’s ability to play either guard position provided Adelaide head coach Chris Lucas more options with what line-ups he could put on the floor. Along with back-court recruits Clydelsdale and Novosel Adelaide strengthened their front-court with the recruitment of 2014/15 WNBL MVP Abby Bishop and Canadian import Ruth Hamblin.
In Adelaide’s opening game of the 2017/18 WNBL season Seekamp set the tone early, scoring 14 points in the opening quarter without missing a shot to set up an Adelaide 33-19 quarter-time lead against the reigning champions – Sydney Uni Flames. Seekamp finished the game with 16 points, shooting the ball superbly to make six of her nine field goal attempts for an accuracy of 67% and was even more precise from long range, making all three three-point attempts. Nicole also had three assists, three rebounds and two steals in Adelaide’s 91-80 victory at Titanium Security Arena.
During 2017/18 Seekamp earnt selection in the WNBL team of the week twice – Round 2 and Round 13. Seekamp was brilliant in Round 2 against Perth with 13 points, eight rebounds, an equal game-high seven assists along with Perth guard Sami Whitcomb, and an equal game-high four steals. Seekamp shot the ball proficiently, making five of her nine field goal attempts for an accuracy of 56% and made two of her four three-point attempts in the 89-81, eight point win at Titanium Security Arena.
During a Round 9 road game against Sydney at Brydens Stadium Adelaide fought back from a 52-55 three quarter-time deficit to record a 77-74 victory with Seekamp playing a critical role in the victory. In the first five minutes and 35 seconds of the fourth quarter Seekamp dominated, scoring nine points to spark a 13-6 run allowing Adelaide to gain the ascendancy and lead 65-61. Nicole scored 12 points and had two assists in the critical final quarter, finishing the game with a team-high 22 points to set a personal new season-high, also having three rebounds and six assists. Nicole was the most accurate shooter for the game making nine of her 14 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 64% and was faultless from long-range making all three three-point attempts.
In a two point loss to Melbourne in Round 10 at Titanium Security Arena Natalie Novosel injured her knee and required a reconstruction, further depleting Adelaide’s playing stocks after losing Laura Hodges early in the season due to a badly broken finger. In a game that Australian Opals head coach Sandy Brondello attended Seekamp scored 16 points against Melbourne, having three rebounds, six assists, and three steals.
Against Bendigo Spirit in Adelaide’s last game of the season on Friday 29 December in Round 13 Seekamp was exceptional with an equal season-high 22 points, four rebounds, six assists and five steals to set game-highs in the latter two categories. Nicole made eight of her 14 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 56% and made two of her three three-point attempts in the 87-74 victory at Titanium Security Arena.
Adelaide finished the 2017/18 regular season in fifth position with a record of 11 wins and 10 losses, finishing one win behind the fourth placed Melbourne Boomers who went on to make the Grand Final. The Lightning’s strike rate of winning 52.4% of games in 2017/18 was the club’s best performance since winning 75% of their games in 2012/13 with a record of 18 wins and six losses.
Seekamp had at least five assists in 15 games during 2017/18 including 11 of the last 12 games of the season. Highlighting how impressive this feat is, Seekamp was one of only four players that averaged more than 5.0 assists per game during 2017/18 along with Nat Hurst, Belinda Snell and Katie-Rae Ebzery.
In 2017/18 Seekamp played all 21 games for the Adelaide Lightning, averaging 13.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.4 steals and 33 minutes and 14 seconds court-time per game. In her first season playing as a starter in the WNBL Seekamp flourished with the responsibility and the opportunity to display her versatility playing as a combo guard to rank third in the WNBL for both assists and steals per game in 2017/18 and of the players that played at least three games for the season also ranked 12th in the league for scoring and fifth for minutes played per game. Nicole led Adelaide for assists and minutes played per game, ranked second in scoring behind Bishop, second for steals behind Novosel and fourth for rebounds.
Seekamp polled 52 votes in the WNBL 2017/18 MVP award to finish in 10th place, ranked second for Adelaide behind Abby Bishop in equal seventh place on 55 votes, Townsville Fire Centre Suzy Batkovic won her sixth MVP award, polling 117 votes to finish 13 votes ahead of Melbourne Boomers centre Liz Cambage.
Representing the Australian Opals
Although Seekamp missed out on being named in the initial 18 player squad on 1 December 2017 for the Australian Opals training camp 1 in the lead-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Queensland she remained in contention to be added to the squad at a later date.
In a special overtime edition of the WNBL show in the second week of December, 2017 co-host Megan Hustwaite was joined by Australian Opals head coach Sandy Brondello in the studio. Hustwaite said “We spoke about Nicole Seekamp on the WNBL show earlier this week, she would have definitely been in conversations for your latest Opals squad, she’s a player that has come back into the system and doing great things, she had a great game against the Boomers and there’s plenty of players throughout the league that are putting their hands up.” Brondello responded “And they are, that’s what’s great for me, I thought the same thing. I followed Nicole obviously when she was over in America, she went to Poland last year, look she’s right there, I am always honest to everyone, like you are right there, keep working hard cos I know you are knocking on the door. I really like what she did, she’s a versatile guard, she just plays so hard, it’s not just scoring, it’s the way she plays defense and she could fit right in to an Opals squad.”
Later in December 2017 Seekamp was one of three players along with fellow Adelaide guard Aimie Clydesdale and Perth Lynx guard Sami Whitcomb added to the Australian Opals squad for the first training camp held in Italy during early February 2018 to prepare for the Commonwealth Games, expanding the squad to 21 players.
Seekamp’s versatility and performances at the training camps contributed to her being selected in the final 12 player Australian Opals team for the Commonwealth Games in April 2018. Six players from Australia’s 2017 Asia Cup team were selected in the Commonwealth Games team being Steph Blicavs, Tessa Lavey, Belinda Snell, Kelsey Griffen, Katie-Rae Ebzery and Alice Kunek. Seekamp was one of six additions to that team along with Liz Cambage, Steph Talbot, Jenna O’Hea, Cayla George, and then 18 year-old Ezi Magbegor who won the WNBL’s 2017/18 Rookie of the Year Award. The Australian Opals 2018 Commonwealth Games team included 11 players that played in the WNBL during 2017/18 with the only exception being Talbot who played with the Melbourne Boomers in the 2018/19 WNBL season and will be a teammate of Seekamp’s at the Adelaide Lightning in the upcoming 2019/20 WNBL season.
Australia were very consistent throughout the Pool stage at the 2018 Commonwealth Games scoring at least 100 points in all three games to win every game with their smallest winning margin being 39 points against Canada. In all three Pool A games played in Townsville all 12 Opals scored and the team averaged a phenomenal 31.7 assists per game with Australia defeating in order Mozambique (113-53), Canada (100-61) and England (118-55). In the Opals opening game against Mozambique Seekamp scored seven points and made three assists, making three of her five field goal attempts.
After the pool games were completed in Townsville the Australian Opals travelled to the Gold Coast for the medal games. During an interview between Planet Sport and two Opals players – Seekamp and Cayla George on the Gold Coast before the semi final against New Zealand Nicole responded to the question “Being part of Team Australia, how much does that mean to you guys and what has the atmosphere been like?’ by commenting “It means a lot, this is the first time I have ever represented the Opals so this is extremely special for me and it means a lot and especially to be able to do it at home in front of family and friends, it has been amazing, it is just great.” Later in the interview the duo were asked “In terms of your career goals past what we are doing here today what is your ultimate dream or ambition in the sport?” Nicole responded “I mean I would probably say it would be to make the Olympics, that would be my next step. This is one part of the planning, so yeah just keep working on that, definitely to be an Olympian for Australia would be the ultimate goal.” Later in the interview when asked “What is the message that you are trying to send out to young athletes in Australia and around the Commonwealth watching with you play, what message are you trying to send, what do you want people to associate with you as a player and as a person?” Nicole responded “I guess mine would be just to keep working at it, if things don’t work out how you want them to, just keep working at it and keep trying. I am a lot older than some of the girls that have made the team, so I am 25 now, so I took a different route, I think I just stayed persistent with it and its got me to be here, so I can’t complain, so I would say yeah, just keeping working hard.”
Australia’s first assignment on the Gold Coast was a semi final against New Zealand. The New Zealand Tall Ferns were coached by Melbourne Boomers head coach Guy Molloy and featured several players that played in the WNBL during 2017/18 – Micaela Cocks, Antonia Farnworth, Kalani Purcell and Chevannah Paalvast as well as players with previous WNBL experience in Natalie Taylor and Jess Bygate. After leading 53-28 at half-time the Opals dominated the third quarter 30-6 and went on to win 109-50. The Opals had 30 assists and for the fourth game in a row all 12 players scored.
In the gold medal game Australia controlled the first quarter to lead England 26-10 at quarter-time and went on to record a comfortable victory 99-55 despite centre Liz Cambage being ejected in the second quarter due to receiving a technical foul as well as an unsportsmanlike foul earlier in the game. Even with Cambage out of the game the Opals dominated in the front-court with another three front-court players scoring at least 10 points – Cayla George and Kelsey Griffen with 16 points Ezi Magbegor with 11. In the Gold Medal game Seekamp scored two points and made three assists – ranked equal fourth for Australia. Seekamp played all five games for the Australian Opals off the bench and played between 11 and 16 minutes court-time in each game with the dominant Opals looking to spread the court-time fairly evenly.
Shortly after the medal ceremony Nicole’s boyfriend of two and a half years Cody Havermann proposed to her on the court and Nicole said yes. In an interview with ABC Radio Adelaide’s Sonya Feldhoff on Monday 16 April, 2018 Nicole spoke about Cody’s proposal, commenting “He had been planning it for a few weeks and he got in contact with my coaches and coaching staff, he basically told them what he wanted to do and they kind of put the rest in motion. I haven’t been told all the exact details but that’s along the lines that I know of, he’s done very well.” To Sonya’s question of how soon after the win did he manage to do that Nicole replied “We won the game, went back into our change-rooms and got changed, then we had the medal ceremony and it was right after the medal ceremony so I would probably say 20, 25 minutes after the game.” Nicole went on to say “When I was waiting for my medal I was looking around because I knew where he was sitting with my dad, I saw my dad sitting there and not Cody. After we had some photos we were doing a victory lap around the court and we had to go shake hands with Kerry Stokes’ chairman, and then I was leading the way and our manager was like ‘yeah just go stand over there’, so I have gone and stood there and Cody’s come up behind me and grabbed my shoulder, I was kind of looking at him confused saying ‘We’re doing our victory lap what are you doing here?’ pretty much kicking him off the court almost, and then he starts talking, and I’m like ‘oh god it’s happening’ and I was a little bit shocked and nervous and I don’t think I really heard everything that he was saying cos I was so nervous everyone was there watching. He got down on one knee and it all went from there. I should thank that he did it on such a public stage and that channel 7 were there so I might be able to get all the footage of what he actually said.”
When Sonya asked “So what are your plans, have you had a chance to talk about it, will you be staying here, will you be going elsewhere because he is American isn’t he?” Nicole replied “Yes he is, for the time being we will be staying in Australia because I will be playing up in Brisbane for the QBL (Queensland Basketball League) and then going back to Adelaide for another season.” Sonya asked “So what’s the Cody Havermann story, how did you two meet?“ Nicole replied “I went to college in South Dakota and played basketball there and in my very last year there he actually transferred to my school and we met playing basketball against each other at the local gym, I asked him to be on our scout team, he said ‘yep’ and then it kind of just was history from there.” Nicole spoke about the night she won a Gold medal with the Opals and also got engaged, saying “Having my family there was obviously huge, it’s not very often I get the whole family together and to have it when I am playing basketball on such a big stage was amazing. Saturday night in general was just incredible, one I will never forget anyway.”
In July 2018 Nicole represented the Australian Opals in a four nations tournament in China. The Opals played three nations twice each, host nation China, Argentina and Serbia. The Australian Opals won their first five game of the tournament – defeating Argentina and Serbia twice each and China once. Winning each of these games by at least 10 points, with an average winning margin of 15 points. In Australia’s final game of the tournament China dominated in the second half with the Opals losing the game 49-70.
On 1 August 2018 Seekamp was named in a 20 player Chemist Warehouse Australian Opals squad for a training camp in the lead up to the 2018 World Cup held in Spain in late September, however Seekamp didn’t get selected in the final 12 player Opals team. Australia won the silver medal after defeating host nation Spain 72-66 in a semi-final and losing to the United States of America 56-73 in the gold medal game.
In late September 2019 Seekamp represented the Australian Opals at the 2019 FIBA Asia Cup in Bengaluru, India the second time Australia had competed in the tournament, having been defeated by Japan 74-73 in the 2017 final which was the first time Australia had competed at the tournament. Six players from Australia’s 2018 Commonwealth Games team represented the Opals at the 2019 Asia Cup – Seekamp, O’Hea, George, Magbegor, Talbot and Ebzery. The six Opals at the 2019 Asia Cup that didn’t represent Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games were Sara Blicavs, Bishop, Garbin, Mitchell, Nicholson and Allen.
Australia convincingly won their first two Group B games at the 2019 Asia Cup against the Philippines 123-57 and New Zealand 82-44, Seekamp had a game-high six assists against the Tall Ferns. Australia started their third Group game against China well to make five of their first seven field goals of the game to lead 10-2 with six minutes and 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter, however China reduced Australia’s lead to one point at quarter-time 20-19. Australia trailed by one point with eight seconds remaining however were unable to attempt a field goal after China stole the ball to win 70-69.
The team that finished first in each group progressed directly to the semi-finals whilst the team that finished second in each group played the third placed team in the other group, with the winners of these two games to join the first placed team from each group being China and Japan in the semi-finals. Australia having finished second in Group B played the third ranked team from Group A, Chinese Tapei and recorded a comfortable victory 90-51 with Seekamp having a game-high 10 rebounds and an equal game-high five assists along with Jenna O’Hea.
The Opals started their semi-final against Japan in blistering fashion to lead 17-6 with four minutes and nine seconds remaining in the first quarter and led by eight points at quarter-time 23-15. Japan dominated the second quarter 20-5 to gain the ascendancy with the Opals only making two field goals for the quarter to trail 28-35 at the main break. Japan recorded a victory over the Opals 76-64, the second Asia Cup in a row where they had defeated Australia at the business end of the tournament. In the Bronze Medal game Australia recorded a convincing victory against Korea 98-62.
Court-time was spread evenly amongst the Opals with eight players playing between 17.5 and 20 minutes per game and every player averaged at least 11 minutes court-time per game. Seekamp played all six games off the bench, averaging 4.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game and shot the ball at 45.8% from the field. Nicole averaged 12.5 minutes per game, the second least for the Opals, ranked fifth for assists and had an efficiency rating of 8.3 – ranked seventh for Australia.
The 2019/20 WNBL season commences on Friday 11th October and 11 members of the Australian Opals 2019 Asia Cup will be playing in the league this season with the exception being Bec Allen who was the only Opal named in the Tournament’s All-Star Five. Five members of the Tall Ferns team will also be playing in the WNBL – Micaela Cocks for the Townsville Fire and a quartet of players who will be coached by New Zealand’s head coach Guy Molloy at the Melbourne Boomers – Kalani Purcell, Antonia Farnwoth, Penina Davidson and Stella Beck. Three of Sandy Brondello’s Australian Opals assistant coaches are head coaches in the WNBL for the 2019/20 season – Paul Gorris – University of Canberra Capitals, Chris Lucas – Adelaide Lightning and Cheryl Chambers – Southside Flyers.
2018 Queensland Basketball League (QBL) season with the South West Metro Pirates
During the 2018 Queensland Basketball League (QBL) season Seekamp played for the South West Metro Pirates however she missed several games due to Australian Opals commitments.
On Friday 27th July, 2018 in her first game for the South West Metro Pirates after the Opals four-nations Tournament in China Seekamp scored 28 points, had 12 assists, seven steals and seven rebounds to set game-highs in the first three categories during the Round 14, 81-79 victory against the Gold Coast Rollers. Seekamp was named the Queensland Basketball league women’s Player of the Week for Round 14, the second time that she received the award in 2018, having previously been named the Round 9 POTW.
Seekamp played 12 games for the South West Metro Pirates in the QBL during the 2018 regular season, averaging 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 4.5 steals per game. During the regular season Seekamp ranked fourth in the QBL for assists per game behind Mikhaela Donnelly, Nat Hurst and Abby Bishop, led the league in steals per game and ranked equal sixth for points per game. Seekamp scored at least 25 points in six of her 12 games and despite missing a third of the season ranked fourth for total steals with 54, only six behind the leader.
2018/19 WNBL season with the Adelaide Lightning
After signing with the Adelaide Lightning in mid-June 2018 for the 2018/19 WNBL season Seekamp commented “It feels great to re-sign with the Lightning. I think we have some unfinished business from last season, and I think with the team Chris has put together we can accomplish big things. I’m hoping to bring the leadership and energy on the defensive end of the floor.”6
Four of the seven players that averaged more than 7.5 points per game for Adelaide in 2017/18 returned to the club for the 2018/19 season, with Seekamp being joined by forward Colleen Planeta (10.1 points per game), guard Aimie Clydesdale (9.9) and guard/forward Lauren Nicholson (8.0). During the off-season Adelaide further strengthened their back-court by signing shooting guard Steph Blicavs (nee Cumming) who had 278 games WNBL experience, played on two WNBL championships with the Jayco Rangers (2011/12) and Townsville Fire (2014/15). During 2018 Blicavs and Seekamp were both members of the Australian Opals team that won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games played in Queensland during April 2018. Seekamp and Blicavs both finished in the top 10 of the 2017/18 WNBL Most Valuable Player Award with Blicavs recording her third consecutive top-10 finish, having played for the Jayco Rangers in all three seasons.
Abby Bishop and Ruth Hamblin didn’t return to Adelaide for the 2018/19 season, opting to play in Europe for French team Tarbes and German team Castors Braine respectively which resulted in Adelaide having a new look front-court. The Lightning signed two American imports to play in the frontcourt being 193 centimetre centre Kayla Alexander and 185 centimetre forward Nia Coffey. The duo were both selected in the top 10 at the WNBA draft by the San Antonio Stars with Alexander being the number eight selection in 2013 and Coffey being selected with pick five in 2017.
Adelaide head-coach Chris Lucas was delighted that the club’s 2017/18 MVP signed for 2018/19, commenting on Seekamp “She’s a terrific athlete, hardworking and obviously we’re pretty excited to have her back in the program. I think she’ll be looking to take her game to another level and I think the expectations will be on the team are going to rise and she’ll rise to the occasion. I’m really happy to have her back.”7
As a result of a player vote Seekamp and Steph Blicavs were selected as Adelaide co-captains for the 2018/19 WNBL season, with forward Colleen Planeta the vice-captain. Adelaide head coach Chris Lucas gave his approval of the appointments, commenting “It was a difficult decision because there are a number of players with great leadership qualities, so we decided to let the team choose who they wanted to lead them. The coaching staff and I are very happy with the decision. Nicole and Steph complement each other very well and are both high quality people and great leaders.”8
Seekamp commented on being appointed co-captain “It’s an honour to be named co-captain of the club and being selected by your teammates makes it extra special. It’s good to know they respect us as leaders and it makes us feel confident in what we bring to the team. We have a balance. Steph is super positive and knows how to bring everyone together, whereas I’m more tough and give the constructive criticism.”9
In Round 1 of the 2018/19 season Adelaide had a road trip to play the Perth Lynx at the Bendat Basketball Centre and were underdogs against a team that made had the finals in the previous three seasons. Adelaide’s starting line-up was the co-captains Seekamp and Blicavs in the back-court along with Nicholson, Planeta and American import Nia Coffey in the front-court. Canadian import Kayla Alexander missed the game due to a knee injury whilst Coffey starred, registering a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds. After trailing 20-21 at quarter-time Adelaide dominated 38-20 across the middle two quarters to defeat Perth 78-66. Seekamp scored 10 points, shooting at 50% from the field, had four rebounds and a game-high four assists.
Adelaide played their first home game of the season at Titanium Security Arena in Round 2. Seekamp scored a team-high 17 points, shooting at 66% from the field and making all three of her three-pointers, had five rebounds, four assists and a game-high six steals in a 65-75 loss to Townsville.
In Round 5 against the Jayco Rangers at Titanium Security Arena Seekamp scored 17 points shooting at 63% from the field and made three of her four three-pointers, took seven rebounds, had a game-high seven assists and two steals in the 99-74 victory.
In the last weekend in November Adelaide lost to Dandenong at Traralgon Sports Centre 60-70 in a Saturday afternoon Round 7 game. Seekamp scored 14 points, had seven rebounds, six assists and five steals. With Steph Blicavs out injured, only four Adelaide players scored more than four points, with Seekamp being joined in this category by Coffey (20 points), Nicholson (12) and Planeta (8).
The next day, Sunday 25th November Adelaide lost 82-84 to Melbourne at the State Basketball Centre. Melbourne led 82-77 with two minutes and 30 seconds left in the game, Adelaide scored the next five points of the game to level the scores with 45 seconds remaining. Melbourne captain Jenna O’Hea made a long two pointer with 32 seconds remaining to regain the lead and an Adelaide turnover meant that they didn’t get another shot to take the lead or draw level.
After the two Round 7 losses Adelaide had a record of three wins and six losses, placing them in seventh position on the ladder, only ahead of the Sydney Flames. Perth Lynx, Melbourne Boomers and the University of Canberra Capitals were all well placed to make the finals whilst the teams from fourth to sixth, being the Jayco Rangers, Bendigo Spirit and Townsville Fire were within striking distance if Adelaide could strike form.
On Sunday 25th November 2018 a statement was released by Adelaide Basketball who owned the Adelaide Lightning saying that they were looking for investors for the Adelaide Lightning. Adelaide Basketball CEO Ben Kavenagh commented “Adelaide Basketball have invested $1 million over the last two years, but now it’s time to share the responsibility. We have made this announcement to encourage another investor to come forward and work with Adelaide Basketball to give the Adelaide Lightning team the resources and focus that it deserves. Adelaide Basketball has worked tirelessly in their support of women’s basketball in South Australia, but with a lack of community support, it is economically difficult. We are calling on the South Australian community to get behind Adelaide Lightning and go to games and we urge another investor to come on board to ensure the club is viable.”10 Adelaide Basketball provided assurances that Adelaide Lightning would complete the 2018/19 WNBL season, however the club’s future beyond that would be in jeopardy without other investors.
Adelaide Lightning head coach Chris Lucas was told 40 minutes before the team’s road game against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 25th November that Adelaide Basketball were looking for investors in Adelaide Lightning The players and other coaches were told the news in the changerooms minutes after the game.
Adelaide got back on the winners list on the road against Dandenong on Friday November 30th, Seekamp scored nine points, had five rebounds, six assists and had an equal game-high two steals in an 86-80 victory at Dandenong Stadium.
In Adelaide’s second game of Round 8, at home on Sunday 2nd December they had a 91-83 victory against the University of Canberra Capitals, Seekamp scored a game-high 24 points, making eight of her 15 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 53%, had five rebounds, an equal team-high five assists and one steal. Seekamp was named in the WNBL team of the week in Round 8.
Adelaide started 2019 in brilliant fashion, defeating Sydney 110-61 on Friday night January 4th in a home game to commence Round 13. Seekamp scored 14 points, shooting at 66% from the field and made one of her two three –pointers, had five rebounds, a game-high nine assists – three more than the second ranked player for the game, and an equal game-high two steals. Nicole was selected in the WNBL team of the week in Round 13, her second selection for the season.
After their two Round 7 losses and learning that the club’s future was in jeopardy Adelaide hit a rich vein of form from Round 8 to Round 13 to have seven wins and a five point road loss to the Melbourne Boomers, in the process securing Adelaide Lightning’s first finals berth since 2012/13.
Appearing on Episode 14 (January 8) of the WNBL’s official Podcast – The WNBL Show co-hosted by Megan Hustwaite and Michele Timms Seekamp commented on Adelaide’s form “We’ve got it going well at the right time of the year which is great to see. Ever since that Melbourne game where we kind of found out the news about our team we have just, I don’t know if it is coincidence or not but we have got on the right track and we hit our form which is great to see, hopefully we can maintain it going into finals.” Michele Timms said “I was always a little bit interested in how that unfolded for you guys. What happened after that game against Melbourne you go back to the changerooms and you were obviously extremely disappointed and then do you find out there or how did that unfold?” Seekamp responded “It was kind of funny because we were in warm-ups and our manager came up to us and said Chris doesn’t want you going on your phones before the games and I thought “That’s a little bit weird because he’s never said that before.” I don’t think many people are like ‘I’ve got to check social media right before I get on the court’, and I thought that’s a little bit strange, and didn’t really think much of it because I was trying to focus on the game. After the game he comes in, we have our post-game chat and he starts talking about how we have kind of lost our owner so it makes sense after in hindsight. So he told us and then we had our CEO there who came in and basically delivered the news. It is probably not the best time in a way to hear that but Chris really stressed the importance of focusing on the basketball itself and I think that is exactly what we did, it looks that way anyway because we went on a run.”
Megan Hustwaite asked “What has the unknown been like for you and your teammates Nicole, because you are obviously an SA girl, gone back to play with the Lightning last season, you’ve represented the Opals and it has been a great time personally for you and your basketball. What is it like not knowing the future of your club?” Nicole responded “To be honest I haven’t really thought about it, and we shouldn’t be thinking about it, we are going into this focussed on basketball and trying to win a championship. I think if we kind of stray from that thought and start thinking about what is happening off the court then I think we will start to have problems in terms of winning games. I think right now we will just keep focussing on the basketball side of it and then once the season’s over then maybe think about what that is, but right now I am trying not to think about that so yeah I’m not sure to be honest.” Hustwaite asked Nicole “Tell us a bit about this team, the momentum you have got, the bond you have got as a team and this amazing form.” Seekamp responded “The team has been really great, we just enjoy each other’s company on and off the court which I think definitely helps. We just have such a great team, we have our roles, we all play our part and we also all have the ability to go off on a single night, so if you shut down one player then we have got other players that can step up and have big games, it is definitely a big strength of ours and probably one of the reasons why we have been winning games because if you shut down Nia in terms of her scoring then we have got Lauren Nicholson and Steph Blicavs who can step up and make threes. We have just got so many factors.”
In the final game of the 2018/19 WNBL regular season Adelaide played Perth Lynx on the road at the Bendat Basketball Centre with the winner of the match to finish third and play the Melbourne Boomers in a semi final series and the loser to finish fourth and play the University of Canberra Capitals in a semi final series. Perth looked to have the game won, leading Adelaide by 21 points, 56-35 with four minutes and 35 seconds left in the third quarter. Adelaide mounted a phenomenal fightback, going on a 16-3 run to reduce the margin to eight points at three quarter-time. With Adelaide trailing by two points late in the game Seekamp provided the assist to Kayla Alexander who made a lay-up in the dying seconds to tie the game and send it to overtime. Four members of Adelaide’s starting five played the entire five minute overtime period being the two co-captains Seekamp and Blicavs along with the two imports Coffey and Alexander. One of the Lightning’s starters Lauren Nicholson had been subbed out of the game due to a broken nose which resulted in Aimie Clydesdale starting overtime on the court and she relished the opportunity, scoring six of Adelaide’s 10 points in overtime including a pull-up jumper with 55 seconds left to give Adelaide a one point lead. Neither side scored for the remainder of the overtime period enabling Adelaide to record a phenomenal one point win to finish the 2018/19 regular season in third position. In the remarkable one point Adelaide victory Seekamp scored 11 points, had an equal team-high nine rebounds and five assists.
Adelaide finished the 2018/19 WNBL regular season in third position on the ladder with an identical record of 13 wins and eight losses as the fourth placed team the Perth Lynx, however Adelaide won the tie-break due to winning the season split between the two clubs three games to nil. The Lightning finished three games behind minor premiers the University of Canberra Capitals and two games behind the second placed Melbourne Boomers. Adelaide lost all three games to Melbourne during the regular season, the first two losses to the Boomers both on the road at the State Basketball Centre had been by two points in Round 7 and five points in Round 10 whilst in the final game between the two clubs at Titanium Security Arena Adelaide led by nine points at half-time 55-46 before being thoroughly outplayed in the second half and defeated 83-98.
All final series in 2018/19 were best of three games and had the home, away, home format with the higher ranked side hosting games 1 and 3 (if required) and the lower ranked side hosting game 2. In game 1 of the semi final series at the State Basketball Centre Adelaide trailed Melbourne 4-10 halfway through the first quarter and fought back throughout the half to enter half-time with the scores level, 35 points apiece. In the third quarter Seekamp scored seven points, made two assists and one steal to contribute to Adelaide outscoring Melbourne 21-13 in the third quarter and gaining the ascendancy. Adelaide scored the first eight points of the last quarter and were never threatened from that point on, defeating Melbourne 76-60. In the victory Seekamp scored a game-high 18 points, shooting at 57% from the field, had three rebounds, a game-high six rebounds and an equal game-high four steals along with Nicholson.
Throughout the 2018/19 WNBL season the average crowd for Adelaide Lightning’s home games at Titanium Security Arena was very low at approximately 250 people. Making matters worse admission to the Lightning’s games was free. An entry fee was charged for game 2 of the semi final and a much improved crowd of over 1,000 people attended.
Both teams were evenly matched in the first half of Game 2 at Titanium Security Arena with Adelaide trailing Melbourne 47-48. Adelaide again gained the ascendancy in the third quarter, outscoring Melbourne 29-21 for the term to lead by seven points at the final change. After an even final quarter Adelaide recorded a 100-92 victory to win the semi final series 2 games to nil and advance to their first Grand Final since 2010. Nicole scored nine points, made four rebounds and was superb at setting up her teammates with scoring opportunities, making 12 assists whilst having zero turnovers which is a phenomenal achievement. Three Adelaide starters made nine field goals and scored at least 20 points, being Coffey (30 points), Nicholson (23) and Alexander (20). In the high-scoring encounter Adelaide shot the ball at 52% from the field and had 24 assists.
On the 5th February edition of the WNBL Show Michele Timms commented on Nicole Seekamp ‘’I would start her, her form right now I would start for the Opals. I think she’s terrific, she didn’t score that prolific (in game 2 of the semi final), but what she did out there even when she wasn’t scoring, 12 assists, just making the right decisions at the right times, seeing the mismatches, going to work.”
The University of Canberra Capitals entered the Grand Final series on an 11 game winning streak whilst Adelaide had won 12 of their 14 previous games. Adelaide’s starting line-up for Game 1 at AIS Arena was the two co-captain’s Seekamp and Blicavs and the two imports Coffey and Alexander along with Lauren Nicholson. Canberra’s starting line-up was Leilani Mitchell and Kelly Wilson in the back-court along with Kia Nurse, Kelsey Griffin and Mariana Tolo in the front-court. Adelaide started Game 1 of the Grand Final series in blistering fashion to lead 16-4 with five minutes and 27 seconds left in the first quarter. Adelaide’s lead was reduced to three points 38-35 with four minutes and 25 seconds remaining in the second, Canberra then scored 13 unanswered points in the remainder of the second term to gain the ascendancy and lead 48-38 at half-time. The University of Canberra Capitals controlled the second half to win 88-67 with Kia Nurse scoring 23 points and co-captain Kelsey Griffin recording a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Seekamp scored five points, making two of her 10 field goals attempts, two rebounds and had an equal game-high eight assists along with Canberra guard Mitchell. Only two Adelaide players were in double figures for points scored – Nicholson and Coffey with 21 and 15 respectively.
In game 2 of the Grand Final series Adelaide exceeded their expectations by having a crowd of 3,702 people at Titanium Security Arena. Both teams commenced game 2 with the same starting line-up as game one. For most of the game the University of Canberra Capitals held a slight lead however the Adelaide Lightning were able to remain within striking distance. With Canberra leading 34-44 late in the second quarter Seekamp made a pull-up jump shot three pointer with three seconds left in the term to reduce the half-time margin to seven points. Adelaide were able to reduce the margin to one point at the final change, trailing 55-56. Canberra were in a commanding position leading 68-61 with four minutes and 45 seconds remaining in the game. Adelaide reduced the margin to one point, 70-71 with 2 minutes and 43 seconds remaining, neither team scored for more than a minute and a half before a Kayla Alexander lay-up gave Adelaide a one point lead with 63 seconds to play. Kelsey Griffin responded 15 seconds later to regain the lead for Canberra by one point. A missed jump shot by Nia Coffey was rebounded by Nurse. On the next possession Canberra missed two shots but both times gained the offensive rebound with the second rebound being by Tolo who rebounded her own missed shot, Adelaide were able to force a jump-ball and had the possession arrow, giving them the ball with 5.5 seconds left in the game.
Adelaide coach Chris Lucas substituted Alexander out of the game, replacing her with the quicker Clydesdale. Seekamp inbounded the ball at the defensive baseline to Nicholson who dribbled up the court, after Mitchell deflected the ball Nicholson regained control, dribbled to the three point line and passed to Seekamp who was standing at the top of charge circle with her back to the basket, Seekamp caught the ball and spun 90 degrees in mid-air to attempt a shot facing the basket. Seekamp’s shot landed on top of the left hand side of the ring, the ball rolled to the right hand side of the ring and bounced in, Canberra players were quick to signal that Seekamp’s shot was attempted after the final siren, however the basket was counted, giving Adelaide a one point victory, 74-73 after a dramatic 5.5 second final possession which is one of the most talked about plays in WNBL history.
In the post-game interview on Fox Sports with Suzy Batkovic Seekamp commented “I don’t even know what to feel right now, it was pretty crazy, I think I was a little caught off guard and thought about throwing it (the ball) over the back of my head, but I was like wait, I have some time.” Nicole commented on her performance in game 2 saying “I really tried to focus on my defence because I was a little disappointed in my performance last game. I tried to lead this team with my defensive effort and I think it kind of flowed through the group and I think we played great as a team today. There is still room for improvement though and that is what we want to get better at next game and hopefully take this and get the win.” In game 2 Seekamp scored a team-high 18 points, making eight of her 18 field goal attempts for an accuracy of 44%, making three of her seven three pointers. Nicole also took nine rebounds including four offensive, had a team-high five assists and two steals.
Game 2 of the Grand Final was the first time Canberra had been restricted to under 80 points since 23rd November when they had a home victory against the Melbourne Boomers 72-70. In game 2 Kelsey Griffin scored 24 points and had 23 rebounds and three other Canberra players scored more than 10 points – Nurse (16 points) playing all 40 minutes, Mitchell (13) and Tolo (11). Adelaide also had four starters in double figures with Nicole being joined in this category by Coffey (14), Nicholson (13) and Alexander (12) with these four players all recording at least seven rebounds each.
Adelaide started Game 3 on 16th February in ideal fashion to lead by seven points 15-8 with five minutes and 15 seconds remaining in the first quarter. With one minute and 20 seconds left in the first term Nicole injured her right ankle as a result of stepping on Leilani Mitchell’s right foot whilst she was guarding the Canberra point guard. Less than 20 seconds later Seekamp was substituted out of the game and went to the rooms for treatment. Seekamp returned to the game a third of the way into the second quarter. Adelaide Lightning led 44-43 with two minutes and 29 seconds to play in the first half, Canberra scored six of the next seven points to lead 49-45 at half-time. Adelaide trailed by five points 62-67 with just under a minute to play in the last quarter. Canberra again finished the quarter strongly to score the last seven points of the third term to open up a 12 point lead at the final break and went on to defeat Adelaide 93-73 to win the 2018/19 WNBL Championship.
Seekamp hampered by her right ankle injury played 23 minutes and 21 seconds game-time, scored 11 points, had five rebounds and two assists. Seekamp was one of five Adelaide players in double figures for points scored along with two players off the bench – Planeta (15) and Clydesdale (14) and two starters – Alexander (11) and Nicholson (10). Griffin led the University of Canberra Capitals with 29 points and 15 rebounds as the Canberra starters scored 90 of the team’s 93 points comprised of 19 for Mitchell, 16 for Wilson, 14 for Tolo and 12 for Nurse. Griffin won the Rachel Sporn Medal as the Grand Final MVP, the third time in her career that she had won this award with the previous times being when she was playing for the Bendigo Spirit in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
During 2018/19 Seekamp averaged 12.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game, setting career-highs for rebounds and assists. Seekamp led the WNBL for steals and ranked second for assists behind Kelly Wilson. Nia Coffey was named Adelaide Lightning’s MVP for the 2018/19 season and was also named in the WNBL’s All-Star Five and finished fifth in the league MVP Award being joined in the top 10 by team-mate Lauren Nicholson who won the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year Award. Adelaide Lightning head coach Chris Lucas was named the WNBL coach of the year, polling 25 votes to finish ahead of Paul Goriss (University of Canberra Capitals) 19 votes and Andy Stewart (Perth Lynx) 18 votes.
On 4th March 2019 it was announced that the Adelaide Lightning would continue in the WNBL with a new consortium led by Bruce Spangler taking over the license from Adelaide Basketball. Spangler commented “We are thrilled to take over the license of South Australia’s most successful sporting team of 2019. We are confident we have a good number of backers and people to develop a sustainable, long-term model to ensure Adelaide Lightning’s future. It was of upmost importance to retain Chris Lucas as head coach. Chris has played an integral part in returning Lightning to its former glory, taking the team from last place to grand finalists in three years. Another important piece of the puzzle was gaining support from sponsors and we are pleased to announce the Motor Accident Commission. “We will work tirelessly to re-engage with the Adelaide community and ensure the team is part of the basketball fraternity in South Australia. I am privileged to work with some amazing people, all of whom are highly motivated to ensure our success and sustainability.”11 Chris Lucas was appointed as Adelaide Lightning coach for the next three seasons.
2019 Training camp with the Dallas Wings
Seekamp was invited to the 2019 Training Camp of WNBA Club Dallas Wings with the clubs president and CEO Greg Bibb commenting “Nicole is a player we have been watching for some time and we have been impressed by her performances at the Commonwealth Games and during the WNBL season. Nicole will add size to our backcourt as she competes for a roster spot during training camp. We are excited to have her join us in May.”12
On being invited to attend the Dallas Wings Training Camp Nicole commented “I am super excited to be invited to the Dallas Wings training camp. It has been a dream of mine for a very long time and a goal since graduating from USD.”13
Seekamp played in all three pre-season games with the Dallas Wings however on 19th May Seekamp and her Australian Opals teammate Cayla George were both waived by Dallas.
Upcoming 2019/20 WNBL Season with the Adelaide Lightning
Seekamp and Nicholson are the only two players from Adelaide’s 2018/19 core rotation that are returning to the club for the 2019/20 season however the Lightning have recruited two Australian Opals Olympians that have played for the club previously in three-time Olympian Laura Hodges and 2016 Olympian Steph Talbot. Veteran point guard Nat Hurst who has played in seven WNBL championships and at 35 years of age won Bendigo Spirits 2018/19 MVP Award has joined Adelaide for the 2019/20 WNBL season, on accepting a role as a back-up point guard with the Lightning Hurst commented “That was the perfect role I was looking for. I know this is Nicole Seekamp’s team and I am happy being a backup and a locker-room presence. I’m super-excited for this role. I know he (Lucas) was worried about how I might feel about it, but it was exactly the role I was looking for.”14
The Adelaide Lightning have signed two American imports for their front-court in Crystal Langhorne a 32 year old 189 cm power forward centre and Brianna Turner a 22 year old 191 cm power forward. Langhorne has played 412 WNBA games including 307 starts having played for Washington from 2008 to 2013 and the Seattle Storm from 2014 to 2019. Turner was selected by the Atlanta Dream with pick 11 at the 2018 WNBA Draft and immediately traded to the Phoenix Mercury. Turner played 29 games for Phoenix in 2019 including 12 starts and was named to the 2019 All-Rookie team.
The Adelaide Lightning’s two imports from last season in Nia Coffey and Kayla Alexander have not returned to the club this season and wont we playing in the WNBL whilst several members of Adelaide’s 2018/19 core rotation joined rival WNBL clubs – Aimie Clydesdale (Southside Flyers), Penina Davidson (Melbourne Boomers), Colleen Planeta (Sydney Flames). Steph Blicavs and her husband Kris are expecting their first child.
After playing club basketball for Sturt, an outstanding career representing South Australia at various age groups and a couple of seasons playing in the WNBL as a teenager Seekamp spent six years living overseas, where she had mixed experiences.
Seekamp was forced to sit-out her first season at South Dakota University in 2011/12 to meet eligibility requirements. Whilst several people at South Dakota were concerned that Seekamp might leave after her red-shirt freshman season she returned and went on to have a decorated career at the University, quickly cementing herself in the starting line-up and being named the Summit League Tournament MVP in both 2012/13 and 2014/15. At the end of the 2014/15 season Seekamp played what she thought was her final game for South Dakota, however after several appeals from the University the NCAA granted her a fourth year of eligibility enabling her to play the remainder of the 2015/16 season after missing the first two games. Whilst the start might have been a nightmare Seekamp had a dream conclusion to her college career in 2015/16 with South Dakota becoming the first summit league team in any sport to win a national tournament, winning the WNIT title, to top it off Seekamp won the award as Tournament MVP and was also named the Summit League Player of the Year. During her career at South Dakota Seekamp set a new record with 130 starts, and also finished her career ranked second on the university’s all-time list for points scored (2,056), assists (628) and steals (265).
Whilst Seekamp’s first season as a professional playing in Poland didn’t go as smoothly as she would have liked with some things being lost in translation due to the language barrier she did have some strong games and was able to gain some valuable experience.
Seekamp had long harboured ambitions to represent Australia at senior level and on the back of impressive WNBL form she broke through to make her first appearance for the Opals in a home Commonwealth Games in Townsville and the Gold Coast in April 2018. The last night of competition was as Nicole said “Just incredible, one I will never forget anyway” with the Opals winning the Gold Medal game against England and then Nicole getting engaged to Cody less than half an hour later on the basketball court.
Earlier this year 27 year old Seekamp came close to achieving two other goals – winning a WNBL Championship with the Adelaide Lightning and making it onto a WNBA roster. Seekamp’s on-court play and leadership was pivotal in the Adelaide Lightning’s late season resurgence in 2018/19 which resulted in the club making their first finals appearance since 2012/13. Seekamp played a critical role in Adelaide winning game 2 of the Grand Final series against Canberra, scoring a team-high 18 points which included the match winning basket as time expired.
Whilst Adelaide lost the 2018/19 WNBL Grand Final to Canberra in three games and Seekamp was waived by the Dallas Wings at the end of the 2019 Training Camp significant progress has been made in the pursuit of these two goals. It was a tremendous performance by the Adelaide Lightning to fight back to make the Grand Final after being seventh on the ladder on 25th November, the day that the players were told that the club faced extinction.
Since arriving back in Adelaide on 21 July 2017 Seekamp has had a whirlwind two and a bit years. Despite an absence of six seasons Seekamp had no trouble adapting in her return to the WNBL with the Adelaide Lightning in 2017/18 spending time playing at both guard positions, with her strengths being her reading of the play, defense, quick hands to generate steals, ability to bring team-mates into the game with her passing, versatility and leadership. Seekamp won the Adelaide Lightning 2017/18 MVP and in that season as well as 2018/19 she ranked in the top three of the WNBL for both steals and assists.
South Australian Nicole Seekamp grew up wanting to play for the Adelaide Lightning in the WNBL and in a week’s time she will commence her third consecutive season and fourth overall with the club. Whilst how the 2019/20 WNBL season unfolds is unpredictable, given how effectively Seekamp has negotiated some unexpected events throughout her career together with her reading of the play and the ability to consistently deliver a high performance she is well equipped to handle and adapt to any situation both on and off the court in her role as the Adelaide Lightning starting point guard and a leader.
By Dean Andrews
Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777