The Dentistry Plus Cockburn Cougars have added to the depth of their point guard stocks, signing much improved South-West junior Zaya Black for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
Black showed age is no barrier at the next level, registering 10.8 points, 4.5 rebounds per game, and 29% from three in her first full season at the NBL1 West level.
At just 18 years old, there is a level of exposure at the next level not a lot of young athletes get, with Black excited about bringing her experiences with her as she moves up the Forrest Highway.
“Bringing a lot of energy and aggression on the floor is something I pride myself on, and have learnt is so important over the last 12 months,” Black said.
“Having an opportunity to bring those qualities to the Cougar Family and play alongside experienced athletes at NBL1 and WNBL level is exciting.
“It’s always been intimidating playing at Cockburn, so to now call that my home court is something I’m ready for.
“I know the club is close, my former club (South-West) sat next to the Cougars at the NBL1 awards night, and it was so good to see how much they get around each other, cheer for their team mates and I’m looking forward to being a part of a family environment.”
Cockburn basketball Head Coach and Chief Executive Tyrone Thwaites worked with Black during the 2020 WA under-18 country women’s program, with her transition to senior basketball something that sparked his eye in 2021.
“Zaya has a really simple approach to basketball, she doesn’t over complicate anything,” he said.
“To see that transition to the women’s game this year was really pleasing for her, and something that obviously didn’t go unnoticed.
“She’s an excitable and unselfish team mate, so bringing her in to develop and learn from Jewel Williams is going to be really fun in 2022.”
Black is currently away at Lakeland College in Alberta Canada, and is set to re-join the group in April to start her time as a Cougar.
“College life is super hectic, but I’m learning so much about a different style of play and how much training goes into being an elite athlete. I love it,” she said.
“So when I come back I really want to fit in straight away, so Cockburn made sense to me because I love the way Ty (Thwaites) like to play, but also how he coaches.”
“He doesn’t let us slack off or take a backwards step, that’s important to develop discipline and I’m not afraid to learn where I can be better.
“I can’t wait to get back there with my team mates and play some finals basketball.”
Black gives the Cougars some strong back court depth for 2022, but more importantly with both point guards under the age of 21, provides an exciting future for the young program.
“Zay (Black) adds some depth to a position we need, in the right age bracket for us, to give us a really strong core group for the next 5-6 years and beyond,” Thwaites said.
“We are working very hard with our junior Cougars inside our Pride program, and we expect to see the rewards of that leak into our NBL1 program from 2023 and beyond.
“Zaya, Jewel and our existing core group gives us a solid foundation to build upon with the likes of Jess Hickey, Lily Gammidge, and more of our juniors coming through our Pride program in the next 12-18 months.”