On Sunday 5 February Bendigo Spirit guard Ally Wilson played her 200th WNBL game and reached 500 career assists in a Round 13 road game against the Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville. South Australian Wilson made her WNBL debut as a development player with Adelaide Lightning on 8 October 2010 and is in her 10th consecutive season on the main roster of a WNBL club, having commenced this sequence in 2013/14 with Townsville Fire.
On The WNBL Show – EP15 published on 14 February 2023 Wilson was a co-host along with Megan Hustwaite. During the episode Hustwaite asked Wilson “You have passed 200 games recently, what did it mean to learn of that milestone because often players don’t realise where they are at in terms of games played. What did it mean to you to hit 200?” Ally responded “Yeah, you are right, I didn’t know that it was coming up to 200, you sort of have a fair idea of where it is sitting at but no idea where the time has gone to play 200 games. Really special and to be able to do it with my club and my teammates at the moment who I absolutely adore was really special.”
Ally Wilson driving to the basket playing for Bendigo Spirit against Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre on 6 January 2023
Wilson is a proud Ngarrindjeri woman and one of over 10 players with Indigenous and First Nations heritage that are playing in the league during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season. In an article published by The Pick and Roll last week on 14 February for the WNBL’s Indigenous Round held in Round 14 Wilson told Tristan Prentice “Indigenous round is very special to me as it gives an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous culture and be proud of that. At the same time – it is also an opportunity to highlight and bring awareness to the issues that Indigenous people face and provide education around the history of our people.”1
Wilson grew up in the South Australian country town of Murray Bridge, approximately an hour drive from Adelaide. Wilson played junior basketball for the Eastern Mavericks and represented her state at National Junior Championships from the under 16s to the under 20’s. At the 2013 Australian Under 20 Championships Wilson was a member of the South Australian team that won the silver medal and was recognised for her phenomenal tournament by being awarded the Bob Staunton Medal as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
In Wilson’s first two WNBL seasons on a main roster with the Townsville Fire she achieved individual and team success as a member of Townsville’s core rotation. In 2013/14 Wilson won the WNBL’s Betty Watson Rookie of the Year Award and in the following 2014/15 season Ally was a member of Townsville’s WNBL Championship winning team.
From 2015/16 to 2019/20 Wilson played five consecutive seasons with the Sydney Uni Flames. Wilson progressed from being a core rotation player for Sydney in 2015/16 to being a starter in her next four seasons with the club. In 2016/17 Wilson was a member of the Sydney Uni Flames WNBL Championship winning team and in two of Sydney’s four finals led her team in scoring. From the start of the 2013/14 season until mid-way through the 2018/19 season 175 centimetre tall Wilson played 136 consecutive WNBL games before a knee injury on 24 November 2018 ended her 2018/19 season.
In all three seasons from 2017/18 to 2019/20 playing for Sydney combo guard Wilson ranked in the WNBL’s top five for minutes played per game. During this three-season period Wilson had two seasons ranked in the league’s top five for three-pointers made per game and two seasons ranked in the WNBL’s top 10 for assists per game.
Playing predominantly as a point guard for Adelaide Lightning in the 2020 hub season Wilson ranked in the WNBL’s top six for assists, three-pointers made and minutes per game.
After not being on a WNBL roster at the start of the 2021/22 WNBL season Wilson joined Bendigo Spirit early in the season and has started most games in her two seasons with the club. 28 year-old Wilson ranks in the WNBL’s top 20 for assists and three-pointers made per game in 2022/23.
At state league level Wilson has excelled competing in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL), South Australian Premier League and NBL1. From 2014 to 2018 Wilson played four seasons for Launceston Tornadoes and was named in the All-SEABL team in both 2016 and 2018. Playing for the Eastern Mavericks in the South Australian Premier League in 2017 Wilson won the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award and was named in the All-Star Five.
After missing five months of basketball due to a knee injury Wilson made her return in April 2019 with Victorian club Diamond Valley Eagles during the 2019 NBL1 (now NBL1 South) season. Playing for South Australian club Norwood Flames in NBL1 CentralAlly earnt back-to-back All-Star Five selections in 2021 and 2022 and led the Conference for assists per game in the latter season.
At the 2017 World University games held in Taipei Wilson was a member of the Emerging Opals team that defeated Japan 85-78 in the final to win the gold medal. At the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham Wilson made her 3×3 debut for the Australian team. In the bronze medal game Australia fought back from a 6-10 deficit against New Zealand to have a 15-13 victory to win the bronze medal.
Ally Wilson’s outstanding basketball career from juniors to WNBL, state leagues and representing Australia is comprehensively covered below.
Early life and junior career
Alex Wilson was born in Murray Bridge, South Australia on 21 March 1994. In an Alex Wilson profile video published by the WNBL 15 November 2017 Wilson commented on the start of her basketball journey, saying “First started playing basketball when I was about four or five years old. My dad played state for SA Country and he was with the Adelaide 36ers. I would always go and watch him when I was young and it was just in my blood I guess. He was my coach throughout my juniors and things like that so he really helped shape the player I am.” Whilst growing up Wilson also played netball.
As a junior basketball player a lot of travel was required by Ally and her family from Murray Bridge to Adelaide. Ally commented in the WNBL profile video “I am from Murray Bridge in South Australia which is an hour south of Adelaide, not very big at all, maybe about 18,000 people, I had to always travel to Adelaide to play basketball at a high level. It was a pretty big commitment, having to be at school all day, then as soon as school finished go straight from school to Adelaide to train, come home, go to bed. Friends were always like ‘are you coming to this, are you coming to that, there is a party on this weekend.’ Oh no I have a basketball camp in Adelaide all weekend long so I did miss out on a lot of that growing up but that was my life and I probably wouldn’t change it.”
Wilson played junior basketball with the Eastern Mavericks and was a teammate of 2020 WNBL Most Valuable Player Steph Talbot in the under 16’s and beyond. The Eastern Mavericks girls under 16’s team were runners up at the 2009 National Championships. Wilson represented South Australia Country at National Junior Championships in the Under 16’s and Under 18’s.
At the 2013 Australian Under 20 Championships held in Launceston in February Wilson was a member of the South Australian team that that made it to the final. South Australia were defeated by Victoria 48-57 in the final and won the silver medal. Wilson had had an exceptional tournament to win the Bob Staunton Medal as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
When Wilson was growing up her hero was indigenous basketball player Rohanee Cox who’s career highlights include winning the WNBL’s MVP Award in 2008/09 and being a member of the Australian Opals silver medal winning team at the 2008 Olympic Games. Cox played 297 WNBL games in her career and ranks in the top 15 on the WNBL’s All Time list for both scoring (12th) and rebounds (15th).
In August 2022 Wilson commented to the National Indigenous Times “I honestly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see, and Rohanee was like that for me. She was the only one around, but she was also absolutely amazing when she went to the Olympics and paved the way for us Indigenous girls in basketball.”2
During Wilson’s WNBL career she had the opportunity to play on opposing teams to Cox for a couple of seasons and was also teammates with Cox at Sydney in 2015/16. Days before Wilson in her first full WNBL season in 2013/14 played a WNBL game against Cox on 2 November 2013 she recalled an earlier experience of being teammates with Cox at a lower level and the impact it had one her. Telling the Townsville Bulletin “I played with her in an Aboriginal team when I was about 15 or 16 up at a tournament in Darwin. Ever since then I’ve always really looked up to her and always been close to her.”3
WNBL debut in 2010/11 and being at the Australian Institute of Sport from 2011 to 2013
For the 2010/11 WNBL season Wilson joined South Australian club Adelaide Lightning as a development player. On 8 October 2010 Wilson made her WNBL debut at 16 years of age in Adelaide Lightning’s first game of the season at home against the Dandenong Rangers at Wayville Sports Centre. Wilson played WNBL three games for Adelaide in 2010/11.
From 2011 to 2013 Wilson had a scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. Two players that spent some time at the AIS whilst Wilson was a scholarship holder there are current Bendigo Spirit teammate Abbey Wehrung and current Adelaide Lightning captain Talbot.
During the Alex Wilson profile video published by the WNBL in November 2017 Wilson commented “I was 16 at the time when I hurt my knee. So I kept dislocating my left knee and went to the surgeon and he said we basically have to get surgery for this to stop happening. From my surgery I got golden staph infection so that definitely set back the recovery time even more than it already was. My knee injury was probably a bit of a blessing in disguise, not being able to play and sitting on the sidelines and being out for a long period of time just makes you realise how much you really do love it and made me appreciate it that little bit more. I moved to the Australian Institute of Sport just after I had my knee surgery so I couldn’t have been in a better place rehab wise. It was a bit of a process coming back and it was baby steps at first, basically walking on it again and touch wood, I haven’t had any problems with it since it happened so it has been really good.”
At the 2013 FIBA Under 19 World Championships held in Lithuania from 18 – 28 July Wilson was a member of the bronze medal winning Jayco Australian Gems team alongside current Bendigo teammate Alicia Froling. In the Gems second game of the tournament against Japan Wilson made seven of 11 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 63.6%, scored 22 points and took seven rebounds in a 96-82 victory.
Australia won six of their first seven games of the tournament to progress to a semi final against the Unites States of America. USA dominated the second quarter 27-6 and won the game 77-54. In the bronze medal game against Spain Gems trailed 25-39 at half-time. Australia reduced the margin to eight points at three quarter time and outscored Spain 30-17 in the final quarter to defeat Spain by five points 73-68 and win the bronze medal. Wilson played all nine games for the Gems and averaged 13.0 points (ranked third for the Gems), 7.0 rebounds (second), 3.0 assists (third) and 24.4 minutes (fourth) per game.
Playing for Townsville Fire in 2013/14 and winning the WNBL’s Rookie of the Year Award
Wilson signed with Townsville Fire for the 2013/14 WNBL season. Six players averaged more than 20.0 minutes per game for Townsville in 2013/14 – Suzy Batkovic, Steph Blicavs (nee Cumming) Rachael McCully (nee Flanagan), Micaela Cocks, Mia Murray (nee Newley) and Kayla Steindl (nee Standish). Wilson was one of four members of Townsville’s core rotation that averaged between 6.0 and 12.0 minutes per game along with Rosie Fadljevic, Olivia Levicki (nee Thompson) and Tiana Mangakahia. Chris Lucas was in his third consecutive season as Townsville’s Head Coach in 2013/14.
Townsville captain McCully and Levicki both missed a home game at Townsville Stadium against Logan Thunder on 26 October due to illness. Wilson thrived playing additional minutes against Logan to score 13 points and take four rebounds playing 20 minutes court-time in Townsville’s 89-76 victory.
A week later Wilson was able to play a WNBL game on opposing teams to her idol Rohanee Cox with Townsville hosting Sydney Flames at Townsville Stadium on 2 November. For Sydney Cox scored 13 points in 28 minutes court time whilst Wilson scored three points for Townsville in 13 minutes court time. Townsville led at every change and defeated Sydney 76-66.
Against the West Coast Waves in a road game on 20 December Wilson scored 12 points and took four rebounds in the Fire’s 88-56 victory. Wilson shot the ball proficiently to make five of eight field goal attempts at an accuracy of 62.5% and made both free-throws.
On 19 January in a road game against Dandenong Rangers Wilson scored 14 points, took seven rebounds, made three assists and blocked one shot in Townsville’s 83-103 loss. Wilson made five of 11 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 45.5% and one of three three-pointers.
Townsville finished third on the ladder at the end of the 2013/14 regular season with 16 wins and eight losses, the same record as the second placed Dandenong Rangers. Bendigo won the minor premiership with 22 wins and two losses.
Wilson won the WNBL’s 2013/14 Betty Watson Rookie of the Year Award. After receiving the award Wilson told the Townsville Bulletin “I don’t know if things would have turned out like this for me anywhere else. It’s definitely a confidence booster and it picks you up, and to be in a team that’s made finals while being a rookie is huge. If I get the opportunity to play a big role (in finals) hopefully I take it and make the most of it.”4
Townsville defeated Melbourne Boomer 78-73 in a home semi final. Wilson scored seven points in Townsville’s 74-71 road preliminary final victory against Dandenong. For the second year in a row Townsville played Bendigo Spirit in the Grand Final on the road.
At three quarter time of the 2013/14 Grand Final Townsville trailed Bendigo by two points. With the opening nine points of the final quarter Bendigo set up an 11 point victory over Townsville 94-83 to win back-to- back WNBL championships. In Townsville’s Grand Final loss Wilson scored seven points and took three rebounds in 18 minutes court-time.
During the 2013/14 season Wilson played all 27 games for Townsville Fire and averaged 4.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 11.5 minutes per game. Wilson ranked seventh at Townsville for scoring and minutes played per game and eighth for rebounds and assists per game.
Being a member of Townsville Fire’s 2014/15 WNBL Championship winning team
Wilson continued in a back-up guard role at Townsville Fire in the 2014/15 season and was one of three players to average between 5.0 and 14.0 minutes per game. The top seven players in Townsville’s rotation for 2014/15 was comprised of five 2013/14 players suiting up again in Batkovic, Blicavs, McCully, Murray and Cocks along with off-season recruits Cayla George (nee Francis) and Jillian Harmon.
In a Townsville home game on 2 January 2015 at Townsville Stadium Wilson scored seven points, took a game-high 11 rebounds and made a game-high seven assists – three more than the second ranked player, made one steal and blocked one shot in a 106-58 victory against the University of Canberra Capitals. Wilson had a field goal accuracy of 66.7%, made her only three-pointer and both free-throws in 19 minutes and 10 seconds court-time.
On the road against Melbourne Boomers on 13 January Wilson scored 13 points, took three rebounds and made two steals in Townsville’s 88-69 victory at the State Basketball Centre. Wilson made five of seven field goal attempts at an accuracy of 71.4%
Townsville won the 2014/15 minor premiership with a record of 17 wins and five losses, two wins ahead of Bendigo Spirit. In the semi final at Townsville the home side defeated Bendigo comfortably, 82-63. Townsville trailed Bendigo by two points at quarter-time of a home grand final at Townsville Stadium on 8 March. With a dominant 26-16 second quarter Townsville gained the ascendancy and won the club’s first ever WNBL championship 75-65. Wilson scored two points and played six minutes and 24 seconds in Townsville’s Grand Final victory.
In 2014/15 Wilson played all 24 games for Townsville and averaged 4.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.5 steals and 13.3 minutes per game. Wilson ranked sixth at Townsville for rebounds, assists and steals per game and seventh for scoring and minutes played.
Core rotation member at Sydney Uni Flames during the 2015/16 WNBL season
After two seasons at Townsville Wilson at 21 years of age joined the Sydney Uni Flames for the 2015/16 WNBL season. Wilson was a member of Sydney’s eight player core rotation that each averaged more than 16.0 minutes per game in 2015/16 along with Katie Ebzery, Tahlia Tupaea, Joslyn Tinkle, Hayley Moffatt, Carolyn Swords and Carly Boag. Current Townsville Fire Head Coach Shannon Seebohm was in his second season as Sydney’s Head Coach in 2015/16. One of Wilson’s role models Rohanee Cox was a Sydney teammate in 2015/16 and averaged 6.0 minutes per game in the final WNBL season of her career.
In Sydney’s 88-71 road victory against Adelaide Lightning at Wayville Sports Centre on 17 October Wilson was one of five Flames to reach double figures in scoring. Wilson made five of ten field goal attempts at an accuracy of 50%, made her only free-throw, scored 12 points and took a game-high eight rebounds.
On the road against SEQ Stars on 30 October at Logan Metro Wilson scored 18 points, took five rebounds, made five assists and blocked one shot in Sydney’s 89-97 loss. Wilson shot the ball exceptionally to make six of eight field goal attempts at 75%, two of three three-pointers at 66.7% and all four free-throws.
Against the SEQ Stars on 31 January in a road game at Logan Metro Wilson scored an equal team-high 17 points along with Ebzery, took a team-high seven rebounds including an equal game-high three offensive rebounds, made two assists and blocked one shot in a 73-92 loss. Wilson made six of 13 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 46.2% and one of two three-pointers at 50%.
Sydney finished fifth at the end of the 2015/16 regular season with 13 wins and 11 losses. Wilson played all 24 games for Sydney and averaged 8.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals and 20.7 minutes per game. Wilson shot at a career-high 45.8% from the field and made 22 of 65 three-pointers at an accuracy of 33.8%. At Sydney Wilson ranked equal third for assists, fourth for rebounds, equal fourth for steals, fifth for points and three-pointers made and sixth for minutes played. After the 2015/16 season Seebohm resigned from his role as Sydney Flames Head Coach.
Wilson starts for Sydney Uni Flames in their 2016/17 WNBL Championship winning season
Wilson was one four members of the Sydney Uni Flame’s 2015/16 core rotation that suited up for the Flames again in 2016/17 along with Tupaea Carly Boag and Moffatt. In the off-season Sydney recruited Leilani Mitchell, Asia Taylor, Belinda Snell, Jennifer Hamson, Lauren Nicholson, Shanae Greaves and Sarah Graham. Cheryl Chambers was appointed as the Sydney Flames Head Coach. Chambers had been the WNBL head coach of the Bulleen (now Melbourne) Boomers for eight seasons from 2001/02 to 2008/09.
In Sydney’s opening game of the 2016/17 season against Perth Lynx at Bryden Stadium on 7 October 2016 the Flames starting line-up was Mitchell, Snell, Moffatt, Taylor and Hamson. Starter Moffatt suffered a serious knee injury in the 90-93 loss to Perth in Sydney’s opening game of 2016/17 and missed the rest of the season due to the injury.
After being Sydney’s sixth woman for the season opener Wilson was brought in into the Flames starting line-up for Flames second game of the season, replacing the injured Moffatt. Playing 34 minutes and 56 seconds court-time Wilson scored 13 points and made three assists in Sydney’s 80-89 loss. Wilson quickly cemented herself as a Sydney starter.
With a new coach in Chambers, many new members to the core rotation and the early season injury to Moffatt Sydney had a record of two wins and three losses after five games but quickly built momentum from that point of the season onwards.
With Asia Taylor out for a road game against Dandenong on 3 December Wilson scored 20 points, took six rebounds, made three assists and two steals in Sydney’s 83-91 loss. Ally made an equal game-high four three-pointers from 11 attempts at an accuracy of 36% and made both free-throw attempts. The loss to Dandenong ended Sydney’s three game winning streak.
Ally Wilson shooting a free-throw for Sydney Uni Flames against Dandenong Rangers on 3 December 2016 at Dandenong Stadium
On the road against Adelaide on 29 December Wilson scored 18 points, took seven five rebounds and made a game-high seven assists, one steal and one block in Sydney’s 89-72 victory at Adelaide 36ers Arena. Wilson made a game-high four three-pointers from nine attempts at an accuracy of 44% and made both free-throws.
Wilson played her 100th WNBL game against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 5 February 2017 at 22 years of age. Wilson scored eight points and took five rebounds in Sydney’s 72-67 victory in her milestone game.
Sydney finished the regular season on top of the ladder with 18 wins and six losses, three games ahead of the Jayco Rangers and Perth Lynx in second and third place respectively and four games ahead of the Townsville Fire in fourth position. Townsville Fire had won the previous two WNBL Championships in 2014/15 and 2015/16. After the first fifth of the regular season Sydney were dominant, recording 15 wins and three losses from 18 games. The Flames were in brilliant form at the right time of the season and entered the 2016/17 finals on an eight game winning streak.
In game 1 of the semi final series against Townsville Fire Wilson was exceptional, scoring a season-high and game-high 27 points in the Flames 111-69 victory at Brydens Stadium. Wilson shot the ball proficiently to make nine of 14 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 64%, five of eight three-pointers at 63% and all four free-throws. In game 2 on the road at Townsville Stadium Sydney defeated Townsville 76-61 to progress to the Grand Final.
The Dandenong Rangers defeated the Perth Lynx two games to one in their semi final series to advance to the Grand Final, with the home team winning each game in that series. With six minutes remaining in the second term of game one of the Grand Final at Brydens Stadium Sydney trailed Dandenong 30-31. In the final six minutes of the second term Wilson scored 13 points comprised of two lay ups, two two point jump shots, a three-pointer and two free-throws to play a pivotal role in limiting Sydney’s deficit to two points, 46-48 at half-time. After Sydney led by one point at three quarter time the Flames outscored the Rangers 22-14 in the fourth quarter to win game 1 91-82. Wilson scored a team-high 22 points, took six rebounds, made five assists and blocked one shot. Wilson shot the ball adeptly to make nine of 14 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 64% and made both free-throws.
Sydney Flames huddle before the start of game 2 of the 2016/17 Grand Final series against Dandenong Rangers on 17 March 2017 at Dandenong Stadium
On the road in game 2 of the Grand Final series at Dandenong Stadium on 17 March Sydney led Dandenong 38-37 at half-time. Sydney outscored Dandenong 20-11 in the third quarter and went on to defeat the Rangers 75-62 to win the 2016/17 WNBL Championship. Wilson scored six points and took two rebounds in game 2. Sydney point guard Mitchell was named the WNBL Grand Final MVP. With their four finals victories Sydney extended their winning streak to 12 games.
Ally Wilson playing for Sydney Uni Flames in game 2 of the 2016/17 Grand Final series against Dandenong Rangers on 17 March 2017 at Dandenong Stadium
It was Sydney’s first WNBL title since defeating Canberra 69-65 in 2000/01. In the following seven seasons Sydney were defeated in the Grand Final six times, in 2001/02 and 2002/03 by Canberra, in 2003/04 and 2004/05 by Dandenong, in 2006/07 by Canberra again and in 2007/08 by Adelaide.
Sydney Uni Flames team and staff members with the WNBL Championship trophy after winning game 2 of the 2016/17 Grand Final series against Dandenong Rangers on 17 March 2017 at Dandenong Stadium
In 2016/17 Wilson played all 28 games for the Sydney Flames and averaged 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 29.8 minutes per game. Ally set new career-highs for points, assists, steals and minutes per game. Among players that played at least five games for Sydney Wilson ranked third for minutes per game, fourth for scoring behind Taylor (16.2 points per game), Mitchell (16.0), and Snell (12.6), fourth for rebounds and assists and equal fifth for steals.
Entering the 2016/17 season Wilson made a total of 31 three-pointers in 78 WNBL games at an average of 0.4 three-pointers per game. With the increased responsibility of being a starter for Sydney in 2016/17 Wilson thrived, making 53 of 152 three-pointers at an accuracy of 34.9%. Wilson’s 1.9 three-pointers per game ranked seventh in the WNBL and third at Sydney behind Snell (2.5 three-pointers made per game) and Mitchell (2.1). Wilson ranked 20th in the WNBL for points per game and equal 23rd for assists.
Wilson was one of six Sydney players along with Mitchell, Snell, Hamson, Taylor and Tupaea that played at least 15 games in 2016/17 and averaged more than 22 minutes per game. Due to a foot injury Tupaea only played 15 games. The Flames had a core rotation of 10 players that each averaged more than 10 minutes per game and played at least 15 games for the season. The four players that averaged between 10 and 20 minutes per game were Nicholson, Carly Boag, Greaves and Graham.
In an Alex Wilson profile video published by WNBL on 15 November 2017 Wilson commented “If you had told us at the start of last season that we were going to be WNBL Champions probably wouldn’t have believed you. The group was basically a whole new group with a new coach, yeah a great group of girls formed and clicked at the right rime, it was a really, really great experience. Probably stemmed from Cheryl, I think Cheryl’s a great coach and she comes and goes from Melbourne every few days to go home and see her family so I don’t know how she does it. It’s crazy, that is a big thing for her to do that.”
Playing for Sydney Uni Flames in 2017/18 Wilson ranked in the WNBL’s top five for minutes played and three-pointers made per game
Wilson was one of four Sydney starters in 2016/17 that returned to the club in 2017/18 along with Snell, Taylor and Hamson. The only starter that left was Mitchell who played in Turkey for Hatay in 2017/18. Another four members of Sydney’s 10 player core rotation in 2016/17 suited up for the club again in 2017/18 – Tupaea, Boag, Greaves and Graham. In the off-season Sydney signed guard Katie Ebzery who had at the start of the 2017/18 season had played 226 WNBL games including five seasons for Sydney. Sydney re-signed Hayley Moffatt who had progressed well with the rehabilitation from her knee injury. Tupaea was sidelined at the start of 2017/18 due to a foot injury.
Ally Wilson in an on-court huddle with Sydney Uni Flames teammates during the game against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 26 November 2017
In Sydney’s opening game of the 2017/18 WNBL season against Adelaide Lightning on 6 October 2017 at Adelaide 36ers Arena Wilson was a member of Sydney’s starting line-up along with Ebzery, Snell, Taylor and Hamson. Moffatt played her return WNBL game for the Flames off the bench. Wilson continued in the same form she finished 2016/17 in to score 18 points – ranked second for Sydney behind Ebzery with 20 points, made three assists and two steals in Sydney’s 80-91 loss. Wilson shot the ball proficiently to make six of 11 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 55%, made an equal game-high four three-pointers from nine attempts and made both free-throws.
Ally Wilson playing a free-throw for the Sydney Uni Flames against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 26 November 2017
On the road against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 26 November the Sydney Flames put on a long-range shooting exhibition with the team making 17 of 28 three-pointers at an accuracy of 60.7%. In the 101-89 victory Wilson scored 24 points, made six of 12 three-pointers at 50%, took six rebounds, made three assists and had one steal. Wilson was a member of a Flames trio along with Snell and Taylor that scored 81 points and made a total of 16 three-pointers between them.
Ally Wilson playing for the Sydney Uni Flames against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 26 November 2017
On the road against the UC Capitals at the National Convention Centre on 7 December Wilson fell one rebound short of recording a double double in Sydney’s 73-67 victory. Wilson scored an equal game-high 17 points along with teammate Ebzery, took nine rebounds, made four assists and an equal game-high two steals. Wilson made seven of 13 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 53.8%, two of five three-pointers at 40% and her only free-throw attempt.
Two days later in a home game at Qudos Bank Arena on 9 December against Perth Wilson scored a team-high 22 points, took five rebounds and blocked one shot in a 79-84 loss. From the field Wilson shot at an accuracy of 53% and made a game-high six three-pointers from 11 attempts at 54%.
Sydney finished second on the ladder at the end of the 2017/18 regular season with 14 wins and seven losses, the same record as the third placed Townsville Fire. Perth Lynx were the minor premiers with 15 wins and six losses and Melbourne Boomers finished fourth with 12 wins and nine losses. In the semi final series for 2017/18 the lower ranked team hosted game 1. The higher ranked team hosted game 2 and also hosted game 3 if it was required.
In game 1 of the semi final series at Townsville Stadium on 4 January Sydney scored eight points to Townsville’s 22 in the second quarter. Townsville recorded a convincing 78-49 victory. Game 2 at Brydens Stadium on 6 January was far closer and Tupaea made her return from a foot injury to play her first game of the season. Townsville outscoring Sydney 25-16 in the second term proved to be critical and Sydney lost to Townsville 65-68, ending their season.
During 2017/18 Wilson played all 23 games for Sydney and averaged a then career-high 12.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.9 steals and 34.0 minutes per game. Wilson set new career-highs for points, assists, steals and minutes per game. Among player that played at least five games for Sydney Wilson ranked equal first for minutes played with Ebzery, fourth for rebounds and assists, and fifth in scoring and steals. Sydney’s five starters, Wilson, Ebzery, Snell, Taylor and Hamson all averaged more than 27 minutes per game. Another five Flames players played at least 16 games for the season and averaged more than 9.0 minutes per game – Carly Boag, Greaves, Graham, Moffatt and Susannah Walmsley.
Among players that played at least five games for the 2017/18 season Wilson ranked equal second in the WNBL for minutes played per game, equal 16th for assists and 19th for points. In 2017/18 Wilson made more than 50 three-pointers for the second season in a row, made 52 of 150 three-pointers at an accuracy of 34.7%. Wilson’s 2.3 made three-pointers per game ranked equal third in the WNBL. For players that made at least 10 three-point attempts in 2017/18 Wilson ranked 18th for three-point accuracy.
Ally Wilson shooting a three-pointer for Sydney Uni Flames against Dandenong Rangers on 29 October 2017 at Dandenong Stadium
Wilson’s 2018/19 season with Sydney Uni Flames cut short by a mid-season knee injury
Wilson was one of five players from Sydney’s 2017/18 core rotation that returned to the Flames for the 2018/19 season along with Snell, Greaves, Graham and Walmsley. After being limited to one game due to a foot injury in 2017/18 Tupaea returned to the Flames in 2018/19. In the off-season Sydney recruited Alex Bunton, Brittany Smart, Vanessa Panousis, Amanda Johnson and Madeline O’Hehir. Lara McSpadden became a member of the Flames core rotation in 2018/19 after playing four games in 2017/18.
Sydney Uni Flames players and Head Coach Cheryl Chambers during a time-out against Dandenong Rangers on 19 October 2018 at Dandenong Stadium
Sydney’s starting line-up for the opening game of the 2018/19 season against the University of Canberra Capitals on 12 October 2018 was Wilson, Tupaea, Snell, Johnson and Bunton.
Ally Wilson playing for Sydney Uni Flames against Dandenong Rangers on 19 October 2018 at Dandenong Stadium
Wilson earned selection in the WNBL’s Round 3 Team of the Week for a brilliant all-round performance against Townsville Fire on the road on 27 October 2018 at Townsville Stadium. Wilson scored 21 points, took six rebounds, made a game-high eight assists and a game-high three steals in Sydney’s 76-79 loss. Wilson made an equal game-high five three-pointers along with teammate Smart from 11 attempts at an accuracy of 45%.
On the road against Bendigo Spirit on 11 November Wilson scored 16 points, took five rebounds and made four assists. Wilson made a game-high four three-pointers from eight attempts at an accuracy of 50%.
During a home game at Brydens Stadium against Perth Lynx on 24 November Wilson suffered a season-ending knee injury. From the start of the 2013/14 season Wilson had been extremely durable and was in her 136th consecutive WNBL game from the start of the 2013/14 season when she suffered the knee injury against Perth in Round 7 of the 2018/19 season.
Sydney finished last on the ladder in 2018/19 with two wins and 19 losses. After three seasons as Sydney’s Head Coach Chery Chambers left the club to live in Melbourne full-time with her family.
In 2018/19 Wilson played 10 games for Sydney and averaged 12.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 35.8 minutes per game. Wilson led Sydney for minutes played, three-pointers made and steals per game, ranked second for assists and fourth for points. Ally led the WNBL for minutes played per game, ranked fourth with 2.2 three-pointers made per game, sixth for steals, eighth for assists and 17th for points.
Ally Wilson playing for Sydney Uni Flames against Dandenong Rangers on 19 October 2018 at Dandenong Stadium
Playing for Sydney Uni Flames in 2019/20 Wilson ranked in the WNBL’s top five for minutes played and assists per game
Two-time WNBL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award winner Katrina Hibbert was appointed as the Sydney Flames Head Coach for the 2019/20 season. Wilson signed to play her fifth consecutive WNBL season with Sydney in 2019/20. Hibbert told WNBL Media “We’re excited to have Alex back with the Flames for another season as she has established herself as a core member and leader within the club. She has the versatility to be a combo guard, a natural ability to score and is a great defensive presence which all fits well with the brand of basketball I want us to play.”5
Seven members of Sydney’s core rotation from 2018/19 suited up for the Flames again in 2019/20 with Wilson being joined in this category by Tupaea, Smart, Greaves, Graham, O’Hehir and McSpadden. In the off-season Sydney signed Alice Kunek, Lauren Scherf, Colleen Planeta and Jessica Kuster.
In the Flames opening game of the 2019/20 season on the road against Adelaide Lightning on 11 October 2019 Wilson was a member of the club’s starting line-up along with Tupaea, Kunek, Planeta and Scherf. Wilson missed Sydney’s second game of the season on the road against Perth on 13 October 2019.
On the road against Bendigo Spirit at Red Energy Arena on 29 November Wilson scored 17 points, took six rebounds and made a game-high eight assists in Sydney’s 80-75 victory. Wilson was effective from long range, making a game-high four three-pointers from eight attempts at an accuracy of 50%.
Ally Wilson playing for the Sydney Uni Flames against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 30 November 2019
Against Townsville Fire on the road on 15 December at Townsville Stadium Wilson scored a game-high 20 points, took three rebounds and made a game-high five assists in a 57-61 loss. Wilson made an equal game-high four three-pointers. Two games later Sydney starter Planeta suffered a season ending knee injury, rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament during Sydney’s 86-79 victory against Southside.
In Sydney’s penultimate game of the 2019/20 season Wilson was one rebound and two assists short of recording a triple double in an 78-68 victory at Brydens Stadium on 30 January against Bendigo. Wilson scored 10 points, took an equal game-high nine rebounds, made a game-high eight assists, two steals and blocked two shots.
Sydney finished sixth at the end of the 2019/20 regular season with seven wins and 14 losses, five wins behind the fourth placed Adelaide Lightning. In 2019/20 Wilson played 20 of a possible 21 games for the Sydney Flames and averaged 10.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.9 steals and 34.2 minutes per game. Wilson led Sydney in assists per game, ranked second in minutes behind Kunek, equal third for steals and fifth in rebounds. Among players that played at least five games for the season Wilson ranked third in the WNBL for minutes played per game, fifth for assists, and 13th for three-pointers made with 1.7 per game.
Ally Wilson shooting a free-throw for the Sydney Uni Flames against the Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 30 November 2019
Playing in state leagues from 2014 to 2020
Wilson played her first season in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) with the Launceston Tornadoes in 2014. Wilson played three consecutive SEABL seasons for Launceston from 2014 to 2016 and returned to the Torns for the 2018 season. Playing for the Launceston Tornadoes Wilson was named in the All-SEABL team in both 2016 and 2018.
Playing for the Eastern Mavericks in the South Australian Premier League in 2017 Wilson excelled to average 26.9 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, won the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award and was named in the All-Star Five.
After being out for five months with a knee injury Wilson made her return in Victoria in April 2019 with Diamond Valley Eagles during the 2019 NBL1 (now NBL1 South) season. During an NBL1 The Fast Break video published on 6 June 2020 Wilson was interviewed by Cam Luke and commented on her 2019 NBL1 season with Diamond Valley “It was a bit of a struggle for me last year coming back from my knee injury, it took way longer than we thought it was going to take so I missed a fair chunk at the start of the season which was super disappointing for me and my club that I couldn’t be out there at the start. Once I started back into playing again and got some more confidence in my knee that was super important for me coming into WNBL season with some games under me.”
Wilson signed with Mount Gambier to play in the 2020 NBL1 South season however due to COVID-19 the season was cancelled. During an NBL1 The Fast Break video Wilson commented “If I had a choice I wouldn’t have had a break like this. I love playing all year round and playing in the it was SEABL but now the NBL1 is such a strong league and it keeps me in shape and keeps me fit to go into WNBL ready to go and having that confidence in yourself and confidence in your shot and all that sort of stuff. I don’t like to take too long of a break off basketball so I love playing in the off-season league for sure.”
Playing for Adelaide Lightning for the 2020 WNBL season Wilson ranks in the leagues top six for assists, three-pointers made and minutes per game
Due to the impact of COVID-19 the 2020 WNBL season had a very different structure to previous seasons and imports weren’t eligible to play in the league. All eight WNBL clubs were located in North Queensland for the duration of the 2020 WNBL season which was played at three locations, Townsville, Cairns and Mackay. The regular season was condensed to five rounds commencing 11 November with each team scheduled to play 14 regular season games. The top four teams contested a four game final series with each final being a single game rather than a three-game series and the Grand Final was played on 20 December.
Wilson joined Adelaide Lightning for the 2020 hub season. When Adelaide were at full-strength in 2020 Wilson and current Bendigo teammate Abbey Wehrung started in the back court and Steph Talbot, Marena Whittle and Chelsea Brook started in the front court. During the hub season Wilson played predominantly as a point guard for Adelaide. Other players on Adelaide’s roster for the 2020 season were Louella Tomlinson, Ella Batish, Taylor Ortlepp, Carlie Smith, Brooke Basham, Morgan Yaeger and Aimiee Brett.
In the 2020 WNBL season opener Wilson scored 15 points, took four rebounds, made a team-high six assists and had three steals in Adelaide’s 85-73 overtime victory against the Capitals at Mackay Multi Sports Stadium on 11 November. Wilson made five of 11 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 45.5% and two of five three-pointers at 40%.
Adelaide had travelled to Townsville and were scheduled to play their third game of the season on Tuesday 17 November against the Southside Flyers however Basketball Australia released a statement on the afternoon of the game saying that the game had been postponed. The first three paragraphs of the statement are below:
“Basketball Australia has had to postpone this afternoon’s 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL Round 2 match featuring the Jayco Southside Flyers and Adelaide Lightning in Townsville (5.00pm local tip off).
On Monday 16 November, the Queensland Government advised the Australian public that anyone who had entered the state of Queensland from South Australia on or after Monday 9 November must self-isolate until they have been tested for COVID-19. The Lightning departed Adelaide at 6:10am (local) on Monday 9 November on a direct flight to Brisbane.
Queensland Health has this afternoon confirmed to Basketball Australia that Adelaide Lightning will need to remain in self quarantine in Townsville until Monday 23 November, having been isolated and confined to their accommodation since Monday afternoon’s announcement by the Queensland Government.”6
If Adelaide Lightning had travelled from Adelaide to Queensland just one day earlier on the Sunday they wouldn’t have been required to self quarantine in Townsville. Adelaide played their third game of the 2020 WNBL season on Tuesday 24 November against the Melbourne Boomers and from then until their 13th and final regular season game on 13 December had a very heavy schedule, playing 11 games in 20 days.
In an 89-83 Adelaide victory against Bendigo Spirit on 25 November at Townsville Stadium Wilson scored a team-high 23 points, took six rebounds and made four assists. Wilson shot the ball proficiently to make eight of 14 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 57.1%, made an equal game-high five three-pointers from 10 attempts at an accuracy of 50% and made both free-throws.
On 28 November Wilson made a season-high and game-high 10 assists, took nine rebounds, made one steal and scored three points in Adelaide’s 75-53 victory against the Sydney Flames at Cairns Pop-Up Arena.
After winning four of their first five games Adelaide Lightning only won one more game for the season to finish in sixth place with a record of five wins and eight losses, four games behind the teams that finished second to fourth in Townsville, Canberra and Melbourne and six games behind minor premiers the Southside Flyers.
In the 2020 hub season playing for Adelaide Lightning Wilson played 12 games and averaged 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 31.7 minutes per game. Wilson led Adelaide for assists and minutes played per game, ranked equal second in points per game with Wehrung, behind Talbot, and third for rebounds and steals. Wilson made 2.0 three-pointers per game, ranked equal first at Adelaide with Wehrung. Among players that played at least five games for the season Wilson ranked equal fifth in the WNBL for assists and three-pointers made per game, sixth for minutes played, equal 17th for steals, equal 18th for points and 24th for rebounds.
During The WNBL Show – EP15 published on 14 February 2023 co-host Megan Hustwaite commented “Brooke Basham plays for the Adelaide Lightning which is where you guys met in the hub, I mean I don’t want to delve too much into the relationship but that would have to be one of the best things that came out of that hub season.” Wilson responded “Yeah we knew each other before and we had always been friends but that is where it” Hustwaite interjects “You found love in the hub.” Ally commented “One good thing to come out of the hub.”
Representing Australia at the 2017 World University Games and in 3×3 at the 2022 Commonwealth Games
At the 2017 World University Games held in Taipei in August Wilson and current Bendigo Spirit teammates Megan McKay and Wehrung were members of the Emerging Opals team coached by Chris Lucas. In the quarter finals the Emerging Opals had an upset victory against USA. In Australia’s 79-74 semi final victory against host nation Chinese Taipei Wilson made a team-high six assists. The Emerging Opals defeated Japan 85-78 in the final to win the gold medal with Wilson scoring 17 points and making four assists.
For several years Wilson was on the fringe of Australian selection, having been named in Australian Opals squads including for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup. In addition to attending Opals training camps Wilson had also been part of Australia’s 3×3 squad in 2021 and 2022.
In August 2022 Wilson commented to The Pick and Roll on becoming a member of the Australian 3×3 squad, saying “Honestly, I was invited into the 3×3 Australian Squad at the beginning of last year by the coaches who had watched me play WNBL and thought my style of game suited 3×3. I went to my first camp not really knowing what to expect! The first camp was challenging because it really is such a different style of game from 5×5. The more I have played 3×3, I have fallen in love with it more and more.”7
On the style of play in 3×3 and how it has helped her in the traditional five on five format of basketball Wilson told The Pick and Roll “3×3 is super tough and they don’t really call fouls! So, it has made me tougher in that sense with finishing under contact and being more physical defensively. The style of play is super quick with only having 12 seconds to shoot the ball, so it has helped with getting my shot off quicker under pressure and making quick decisions.”8
On 13 July 2022 Wilson was named in the Australian women’s 3×3 basketball team along with Lauren Mansfield, Lauren Scherf and Marena Whittle for the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham. From 29 July to 2 August eight nations competed in the Women’s 3×3 tournament at the Commonwealth Games comprised of two pools with four nations each. Wilson had been teammates in the WNBL with Scherf at Sydney in 2019/20 and with Whittle at Adelaide in 2020.
Wilson was making her Australian 3×3 debut and the previous time that she represented Australia was five years earlier in the traditional five on five format of basketball as a member of the Emerging Opals team that won a gold medal at the 2017 World University Games.
Mansfield, Scherf and Whittle had been members of the Australian team along with Anneli Maley that won a silver medal at the 2022 FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup held in Singapore from July 6 to 10. Due to commitments with the Australian Opals at a training camp in New York Maley was unavailable for the Commonwealth Games.
After being selected in the Australian team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games Wilson told Australia.basketball “Representing your country is the highest of highs for me – there is nothing better than that. To be in the green and gold, with Australia emblazoned across your chest and your name on your back, is incredible. I cannot wait to play with my teammates and soak up the Commonwealth Games atmosphere.”9
The Australian quartet of Wilson, Mansfield, Scherf and Whittle competed in the 3×3 Pre CWG International Tournament in Birmingham against England, Canada and New Zealand in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games.
Australia won their three Pool A games at the Commonwealth Games, in order 21-9 against Scotland, 21-15 over Kenya and 21-2 against Sri Lanka. After Australia’s opening game victory against Scotland Wilson and her Australian 3×3 teammates held the Indigenous flag and the Ngarrindjeri flag in recognition of Ally’s heritage.
In a 7Sport television segment recorded at the Commonwealth Games Wilson commented “I am a proud Ngarrindjeri woman from South Australia. We have the aboriginal flag obviously and then the blue flag is the flag of my mob. Really special for me to have that out with the girls and I said to them after the game that I appreciate their love and support and holding it up, it means a lot to me and my people, yeah it means everything.”
Later in the 7Sport segment Wilson commented “Yeah, love being in the village in this environment and getting to meet people from so many different places. My path hasn’t always been easy, been told no a lot so it is all about that perseverance and resilience. Obviously getting to play with these girls is the highlight. Never give up, I know that is so cliché but that’s sort of been a big part of my story.”
In the semi finals of the 3×3 tournament at the 2022 Commonwealth Games Australia were defeated by England 15-21. In the bronze medal game Australia trailed New Zealand 6-10. Australia went on a 9-3 run to fight back and have a 15-13 victory to win the bronze medal. On the resurgence to defeat New Zealand Wilson told The Pick and Roll “I remember sitting on the bench when we were down 6-10 and thinking wow, we might not win this! We called a time-out not long after that and we changed what we were doing defensively and just dug in. We were determined to win a medal!”10
In 2021 and 2022 NBL1 Central seasons with Norwood Flames Wilson earns All-Star Five selection
Wilson played for Norwood Flames in the 2021 NBL1 Central season in South Australia. Against North Adelaide on August 7 Wilson scored a season-high 39 points. Wilson registered two triple doubles for the season. In 2021 Wilson played 16 games for Norwood Flames and averaged 23.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.8 steals per game. Wilson earnt selection in the 2021 NBL1 Central All-Star Five.
In the 2021 NBL1 Central season Ally and her partner Brook Basham played on opposition teams with Basham playing for the Forestville Eagles. For the 2022 NBL1 Central season Wilson and Basham were teammates at the Norwood Flames.
During the 16 August 2022 episode of the NBL1 Show co-host Peter Hooley asked Basham about being teammates with Wilson at Norwood “Do you have any moments where she has got the ball out on the three and you think how did you manage to knock that in or how did you manage to see that play?” Basham responded “Yeah, all the time, she will do stuff and I don’t even know what’s happened. Its so easy to play with her, she sees everything before it happens so as her teammates you just have to be ready for a pass and ready for a catch and shoot because probably going to find it to you.”
Playing for Norwood Flames Wilson scored 36 points in a game twice in late April, against Woodville in a road game on 22 April and in a home game against West Adelaide on 30 April. In 2022 Wilson played 15 games for Norwood and averaged 19.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.7 steals per game. Wilson led the NBL1 Central conference for assists per game, ranked second for steals and ninth in scoring. With her superb 2022 season Wilson earnt selection in the 2022 NBL 1 Central All-Star Five and was joined in the team by her Norwood teammate Basham who played 20 games and averaged a team-high 21.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.6 steals per game.
After joining Bendigo early in the 2021/22 WNBL season Wilson is a starter for the club
At the start of the 2021/22 WNBL season in early December Wilson hadn’t signed with any of the eight teams in the league. Bendigo Spirit’s 2021/22 WNBL season commenced on 4 December 2021 and in their opening game Bendigo’s starting line-up was Tessa Lavey, Leilani Michell, Maddie Garrick, Anneli Maley and Megan McKay.
On 16 December 2021 Bendigo Spirit announced that they had signed Wilson to the club’s roster for the 2021/22 season. Bendigo Head Coach Tracy York told WNBL Media “We’ve had the opportunity to recruit another rostered-spot player who can strengthen our team, and Alex is a player who complements our style really well. I have watched her play in the NBL1 Central this season quite closely and see the poise, skill level and elite three-point shooting she possesses. We look forward to her joining us at the Spirit for the rest of the season.”11
Wilson made her first appearance for the Spirit off the bench in their third game of the season on 19 December in a home game against the Melbourne Boomers. After playing eight minutes and 50 seconds court-time against Melbourne Wilson scored 11 points in 23 minutes and 30 seconds against the University of Canberra Capitals on 22 December.
Due to COVID cases among Bendigo Spirit and rival WNBL clubs it was just under a month until Bendigo played their next game on 21 January against Townsville Fire at Bendigo Stadium. In the week before Bendigo’s home game against Townsville Mitchell announced that due to being pregnant she would be unable to play for Bendigo for the remainder of the season.
In Bendigo’s home game against Townsville Fire at Red Energy Arena on 21 January 2022 Wilson replaced Mitchell in the Spirit starting line-up and was a starter for the remainder of the season. In addition to their starters Bendigo had another four members of their core rotation that played at least 12 games for the season and averaged more than 10.0 minutes per game – Demi Skinner, Mary Goulding, Carly Boag and Cassidy McLean. Against Townsville Wilson scored 15 points – ranked equal second for the game behind teammate Maley with 18 points and made a game-high six assists in Bendigo’s 67-77 loss.
At Selkirk Stadium in Ballarat against Perth Lynx on 29 January Wilson scored 15 points, took two rebounds, made three assists, two steals and blocked one shot in Bendigo’s 82-90 loss. Ally made an equal game-high four three-pointers from six attempts at an accuracy of 66.7%.
In Round 13 of the 2021/22 WNBL season the league held Indigenous Round. Wilson told WNBL Media “Indigenous Round is a great opportunity to highlight the contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people have made to basketball in Australia. It is important to me and my people because it provides an opportunity to work towards a better understanding of Indigenous culture and reconciliation.”12
During Indigenous Round Bendigo wore jerseys and shorts designed by Indigenous artist Tamara May Murray. The uniform design was titled ‘the only colours we know are the colours of the game’. Wilson was one of two indigenous players in Bendigo’s team along with Cassidy McLean.
In Bendigo’s opening game of Indigenous Round Wilson scored 17 points, took three rebounds, made three assists, had one steal and one blocked shot in Bendigo’s 78-70 victory against the Southside Flyers on 2 March at MyState Bank Arena in Hobart. Wilson made an equal game-high three three-pointers from eight attempts at an accuracy of 37.5%.
Ally Wilson playing for Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 6 March 2022
After winning only one of their first eight games of the 2021/22 WNBL season Bendigo Spirit were a much improved team in the second half of the season, winning six of their last eight games to finish the regular season fifth on the ladder with seven wins and nine losses. A game between Bendigo and Perth which was initially postponed was unable to be rescheduled which resulted in the two clubs only playing 16 games for the season, one less than the 17 games played by the other six clubs in the WNBL. Bendigo forward Anneli Maley averaged 19.8 points and 15.7 rebounds per game to lead the league in both categories and won the Suzy Batkovic Medal for being the WNBL’s 2021/22 MVP.
Bendigo Spirit team and staff after defeating the Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 6 March 2022
In 2021/22 Wilson played 12 games for Bendigo Spirit and averaged 8.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.9 steals and 27.7 minutes per game. Ally made 1.3 three-pointers per game. Wilson ranked third at Bendigo in three-pointers made per game, fourth in assists and minutes played, equal fourth for steals, fifth for scoring and sixth for rebounds. Among players that played at least four games for the season Wilson ranked equal 19th in the WNBL for three-pointers made per game.
Playing for Bendigo Spirit in 2022/23 Wilson reaches 200 WNBL games and 500 career assists
Bendigo Spirit retained four of their starters from 2021/22 for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season – Wilson, Maley, Lavey and McKay. Also suiting up for the Spirit again in 2022/23 are McLean and Dunlop who are each playing their third consecutive season for Bendigo in 2022/23.
On 24 May 2022 Bendigo Spirit announced that the club had appointed Kennedy Kereama as the club’s Head Coach for the 2022/23 WNBL season. Kereama was Head Coach of the West Coast Waves (now known as the Perth Lynx) for three WNBL seasons from 2012/13 to 2014/15. Kereama was an Assistant Coach of the University of Canberra Capitals in 2021/22 and was the Capitals caretaker Head Coach for four games.
Three players that Kereama coached at the Capitals in 2021/22 were recruited by the Spirit – Kelsey Griffin, Kelly Wilson and Alicia Froling. Bendigo also recruited Abbey Wehrung from Adelaide Lightning. This quartet of off-season recruits had all played for Bendigo Spirit in the WNBL previously and had also played for the University of Canberra Capitals. In 2020 Ally Wilson and Wehrung were the two starters in Adelaide’s backcourt.
Seven players on Bendigo’s roster for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season were starters for their respective WNBL clubs in 2021/22 which highlights the depth the Spirit have this season. Joining Bendigo’s four returning starters Ally Wilson, Maley, Lavey and McKay were Wehrung who started for Adelaide and Kelly Wilson and Griffin who both started for Canberra. During the 2022 NBL1 South season Alicia Froling won the conferences MVP Award playing for Knox Raiders with Kereama as the Head Coach.
On 13 December 2022 a Bendigo Spirit player profiles and guide to the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season article was published on Milestones and Misses. Detailed profiles of all 11 members on the Bendigo Spirit main roster at the start of the season and Head Coach Kennedy Kereama are provided in this article.
In the 2022/23 pre-season Bendigo Spirit defeated the New Zealand Tall Ferns twice and also defeated WNBL rivals Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers. Due to AFLW commitments with Richmond point guard Tessa Lavey didn’t play for Bendigo Spirit in the first two rounds of the 2022/23 WNBL season.
In Bendigo’s opening game of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season against the University of Canberra Capitals on 4 November Kelly Wilson and Wehrung started in the Spirit backcourt along with Maley, Griffin and McKay in the front-court. Eight Bendigo players are averaging more than 16.0 minutes per game in 2022/23, the five starters for the season opener along with Ally Wilson, Froling and Lavey. Ally Wilson was a starter for Bendigo in 15 of their first 19 games of the season up until the end of Round 14.
In Bendigo’s 68-66 road victory against Townsville Fire on 2 December at the Townsville Entertainment Centre Wilson scored 16 points and made three assists. Wilson shot the ball proficiently to make six of 11 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 54.5% and four of eight three-pointers at an accuracy of 50%.
Bendigo won their first seven games of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season to be on top of the ladder and had the best start to a WNBL season in their club history, surpassing six consecutive wins to commence their WNBL Championship winning 2012/13 season.
Ally Wilson playing defense for Bendigo Spirit against Southside Flyers guard Bec Cole at the State Basketball Centre on 6 January 2023
Against the Melbourne Boomers in a home game at Red Energy Arena on 8 January Wilson scored a season-high 20 points, took seven rebounds and made five assists in a 79-88 loss. Wilson made a team-high three three-pointers from eight attempts at an accuracy of 37.5%.
On the road against Adelaide Lightning at Adelaide 36ers Arena on 14 January Wilson scored an equal game-high 18 points, took three rebounds, made a season-high and game-high eight assists and had one steal in an 86-68 victory. Wilson made eight of 13 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 61.5%.
In Bendigo’s first game of Round 11 against the UC Capitals at Red Energy Arena on 19 January Wilson scored 18 points shooting at 46.7% from the field, took five rebounds, made five assists and had an equal team-high two steals in the Spirit’s 86-74 victory. In Bendigo’s road game against Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 22 January Wilson scored 10 points, took five rebounds and made seven assists. Wilson was recognised for her excellent performances with selection in the WNBL’s Round 11 Team of the Week. In a seven game stretch from 6 to 25 January Wilson averaged 5.6 assists per game and had at least five assists in a game six times.
Ally Wilson playing for Bendigo Spirit against the Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 22 January 2023
Wilson played her 200th WNBL game on 5 February in Bendigo’s road game against Melbourne at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville. Wilson reached the milestone at 28 years of age in her 10th season on the main roster of a WNBL club. Ally became the 13th player on a 2022/23 WNBL roster to reach 200 WNBL games during their career and is the fourth current Bendigo player in this group, joining Kelly Wilson (a WNBL record 429 games), Lavey (226 games) and Griffin (206 games).
Ally Wilson about to shoot a three-pointer for Bendigo Spirit against Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre on 6 January 2023
In WNBL game number 200 against Melbourne Wilson achieved another milestone, registering the 500th assist of her career. Ally started the game on 498 career assists and had her second assist of the game in the third quarter, providing an assist for a McKay lay up with five minutes and seven seconds remaining to join the 500 assist club. Wilson became the 10th player on a 2022/23 WNBL roster to reach 500 WNBL assists during their career and is the third Bendigo player to join this group, joining Kelly Wilson (1,485 assists) and Lavey (620). Kelly Wilson ranks third on the WNBL’s All Time assist list behind current University of Canberra Capitals Head Coach Kristen Veal (1,617 assists) and current Melbourne Boomers Assistant Coach Kristi Harrower (1,503). Kelly Wilson and Harrower were teammates on Bendigo Spirit’s Championship winning teams in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
On 11 February it was announced that another member of the WNBL 500 assist club would be returning to the league with Leilani Mitchell (945 assist) signing with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers for the remainder of the 2022/23 season. Mitchell and Ally Wilson were championship winning teammates at Sydney in 2016/17 and Wilson effectively replaced Mitchell at Bendigo in 2021/22. Mitchell had her daughter Elle in 2022 and later this season will play her first WNBL game since December 2021 when she was a teammate of Wilson’s at Bendigo.
On 10 February 2023 the WNBL launched Indigenous Round held from 11 to 19 February in Round 14 of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season, aligning with National Apology Day on 13 February. The Head of WNBL Christy Collier-Hill told WNBL Media “I’m thrilled to see the WNBL hosting its second Indigenous Round. For many indigenous people, particularly the younger generation, it’s crucial for them to have idols in sports and feel their culture’s represented within the game. We hope the increased representation throughout the themed-round will give the community something to aspire to and a sense of belonging.”13
Throughout Indigenous Round all eight WNBL clubs wore Indigenous jerseys and players wore Indigenous Round warm-up t-shirts featuring the league-wide Indigenous artwork, designed by Indigenous artist Tamara May Murray. On 31 October 2022 the WNBL announced that the “Referee panel will wear jerseys with an Indigenous design component for all 84 games of the Cygnett WNBL season for the first time.”14
Bendigo’s Indigenous Round Jersey features the league-wide artwork designed by Murray. The designer of the Southside Flyers Indigenous Jersey is Emma Stenhouse who like Wilson is a proud Ngarrindjeri woman.
As part of the partnership between the WNBL and The Pick and Roll Tristan Prentice wrote an article for the WNBL’s Indigenous Round that was published on the website of both organisations. In the article Prentice wrote “Adelaide Lightning’s Abby Cubillo, Bendigo Spirit’s Ally Wilson and UC Capitals’ Shaneice Swain are three of the eleven listed players of Indigenous and First Nations heritage in the WNBL this season, helping build on the foundations of those before them, including past players such as Rohanee Cox and Michelle Cosier.”15 In the article Cubillo, Swain and Wilson tell Prentice what the WNBL’s Indigenous Round means to them. Links to the Prentice article as well as the Indigenous Round page of the WNBL website are below:
Education is a key component of the WNBL’s Indigenous Round and the link to the league’s page above includes a resource list in addition to providing information on the WNBL’s Indigenous Round.
Patrick Mills became the first Indigenous player to represent Australian Men’s Basketball at four consecutive Olympic Games – 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Mills was a joint flag bearer of the Australian team at the Opening Ceremony and was captain of the history making bronze medal winning Australian Boomers teams.
In January 2022 Mills “Was awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for significant service to basketball, to charitable initiatives, and to the Indigenous community. Patty’s support for Indigenous programs and advocacy for change is well documented. As the founder of the Indigenous Basketball Australia (IBA) he has created opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to advance in sport and succeed in life. The IBA provides opportunities on and off the court in a safe and inclusive environment, encouraging participants to realise their dreams.”16
One of the initiatives of the Indigenous Basketball Australia was the establishment of the Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) in 2021. Wilson has spent time as a regional coordinator of the ICBL and commented to The Pick and Roll on the positive impact the league is having, saying “ICBL is doing a wonderful job of engaging young Indigenous boys and girls in basketball. It all starts at grassroots level and as that program continues to grow and evolve, it will only continue to reach more and more kids. It is a stepping stone into higher level basketball programs.”17
In August 2022 Wilson commented to the National Indigenous Times on the importance of Indigenous children having role models, saying “I am always thinking about it – that’s in the back of my mind to try and be something of a role model to my mob and especially to all Indigenous kids.”18
During The WNBL Show – EP15 published on 14 February 2023 Hustwaite asked Wilson in relation to Indigenous Round “It is something with all of the causes that we see in sport, it is great to shine a spotlight on it for a round or for a weekend but how can we extend that message so it is not sort of a once a year thing?” Wilson replied “Yeah, absolutely. I think the NBL have done a really good job and we should follow suit, they have incorporated Indigenous design into their every week uniform whether it is just in the trim or whatever else have you, I think that is really special and something that the WNBL should look to follow suit for. Having the one round is really good because it is all about that but I think if we can incorporate some stuff into our every week jerseys that would be really important.” Later in the episode Wilson commented “Bendigo had a bit of a chat in the pre-season around what we can incorporate in our every week uniform whether it is in the trim or whatever else have you so I know that Bendigo as a club are certainly looking into that moving forward and that would be great. Kelsey Griffin is a huge driver of that so having her in our club is awesome.”
On 22 August 2019 there was a men’s basketball game played between the Australian Boomers and the United States of America which started at 7.30pm at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. Before the Boomers vs USA men’s game the 2019 International Indigenous Basketball and Cultural Showcase at 5pm which included a game between the Australian Indigenous All-Stars and the Kingdom of Hawaii. The curtain raiser game was comprised of two halves with women’s teams playing in the first half and men’s teams playing in the second half. Wilson was a member of Australian Indigenous Women’s All-Stars team and was joined in the team by two current WNBL players, Townsville Fire forward Nes’eya Parker-Williams and Adelaide Lightning guard Jasmin Fejo.
Wilson commented during The WNBL Show – EP15 on playing in the WNBL for Bendigo Spirit, saying “To come into Bendigo and be surrounded by quality people first and foremost, teammates, coaching staff, physio, all that sort of stuff, I would never take that for granted. Bendigo’s been really special to me and I absolutely love playing in this team. When you are playing well it is the stuff off the court and the environment that you are in that contributes to that. We’ve driven home from pre-season that we run deep and it could be anyone’s night, we don’t rely on one or two people to get the job done every night.”
As Wilson’s 200th WNBL game was a road game against Melbourne a presentation celebrating Ally’s milestone was made to her at Bendigo’s next home game which fittingly was the opening game of Indigenous Round in Round 14 against the Southside Flyers on 11 February at Geelong Arena.
Since December 2021 articles have been published on Milestones and Misses to celebrate the following WNBL games milestones:
Sara Blicavs 250 WNBL games
Carley Ernst 250 WNBL games
Kiera Rowe 100 WNBL games
Chelsea Brook 100 WNBL games
Sami Whitcomb 100 WNBL games
Abbey Wehrung 150 WNBL games
Maddy Rocci 100 WNBL games
Kelly Wilson 400 WNBL games
Steph Talbot 150 WNBL games
Bec Cole 200 WNBL games
Aimie Rocci 200 WNBL games
Abby Bishop 250 WNBL games
Below is a link to the WNBL milestone games category of Milestones and Misses as well as the home page:
In a seven game stretch from 6 to 25 January Wilson averaged 5.6 assists per game and had at least five assists in a game six times. Wilson has played all 19 games for Bendigo in 2022/23 and is averaging 11.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.7 steals and 30.2 minutes court-time per game. Wilson has made 1.5 three-pointers made per game. Ally ranks second at Bendigo for assists per game behind Kelly Wilson, third for three-pointers made, fourth for points and minutes played and fifth for rebounds and steals. Among players that have played at least five games Wilson ranks 13th in the WNBL for assists per game, equal 17th for three-pointers made and 21st for minutes played.
Ally Wilson playing defense for Bendigo Spirit against Southside Flyers guard Bec Cole at the State Basketball Centre on 6 January 2023
At the end of Round 14 Bendigo are fourth on the ladder with 11 wins and eight losses, just ahead of fifth placed Perth Lynx who have a record of 10 wins and eight losses. Townsville Fire, Southside Flyers and the Melbourne Boomers have all secured finals berths. Bendigo or Perth will complete the final four at the end of the regular season.
In Bendigo’s last two games of the season they play Perth Lynx in a road game on Saturday 25 February starting at 6.30pm AWST followed by a home game against Townsville Fire on Wednesday 1 March starting at 6.30pm AEDT. If Bendigo defeat Perth at the Bendat Basketball Centre they will win the series split against the Lynx and lock in a finals berth. Conversely if Perth defeat Bendigo they would win the season split, join the Spirit on 11 wins and results in three Round 16 games would need to go Bendigo’s way for them to make the finals. If Bendigo lose to Perth they need to defeat Townsville in Round 16 and require Perth to lose both their Round 16 games against Adelaide and the UC Capitals to make the finals.
When Ally Wilson was growing up she was to able to draw inspiration from the achievements of indigenous basketball player Rohanee Cox. In July 2022 Ally Wilson told Basketball South Australia “Being a First Nations athlete is important to me to be able to inspire young First Nations boys and girls that they can do anything they put their mind too.”19
In a 202 game WNBL career to the end of Round 14 of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Wilson has averaged 8.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 three-pointers made per game. Among players that have played in the current 2022/23 season Wilson ranks 13th for games played and 11th for career assists.
Wilson got a taste of playing in the WNBL with three games as a development player for Adelaide Lightning in 2010/11 and made an instant impact to win the WNBL’s Betty Watson Rookie of the Year in her first season on a main roster with Townsville Fire in 2013/14. Wilson has been a member of two WNBL Championship winning teams – Townsville Fire in 2014/15 and Sydney Uni Flames in 2016/17.
After being a core rotation player in her first three WNBL seasons from 2013/14 to 2015/16 Wilson has been a starter for most of her games during the past seven seasons from 2016/17 to 2022/23. With a versatile skill-set Wilson is able to play as a shooting guard, point guard or combo guard. Wilson has ranked in the WNBL’s top six for minutes played per game in four seasons and has ranked in the league’s top 10 for three-pointers made and assists per game in three seasons.
Representing Australia at senior level Wilson won a gold medal with the Emerging Opals at the 2017 World University Games and a bronze medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games playing for the women’s 3×3 team.
Playing at State League level Wilson has earnt All-Star Five selection five times comprised of twice playing for the Launceston Tornadoes in the SEABL in 2016 and 2018, twice playing for the Norwood Flames in NBL1 Central in 2021 and 2022 and playing in the SA Premier League for Eastern Mavericks in 2017 when she also won the league’s MVP Award.
Playing for Bendigo Spirit on 5 February Wilson achieved two significant milestones, playing her 200th WNBL game and also reached 500 career assists in the same game. Wilson’s accomplishments during her basketball career have well and truly demonstrated the possibilities available with a combination of skill, resilience and focus, providing a source of inspiration for young First Nations boys and girls.
Article and photographs by Dean Andrews
Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777
Milestones and Misses
Milestones and Misses publishes articles to celebrate the achievements of sportspeople, mainly in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) and Australian Rules Football (AFL and AFLW). In sport as with life in general it is common that milestones are only achieved after overcoming adversity, so whilst the articles on the Milestones and Misses website celebrate sportspeople achieving milestones they also cover the misses along the journey such as a player having minimal game-time or spending a prolonged period on the sidelines due to injury. The aim of the articles is to enable readers to gain a greater appreciation of the journey sportspeople have had during their career.
A link to Milestones and Misses homepage and WNBL category is below:
The Milestones and Misses website was set up in December 2015. From 2020 onwards articles have been published on the following sportspeople:
Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin
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