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Hamilton and Rafiu chosen as Defensive Players of the Year

Next up in our ongoing week of WEABL awards is Defensive Player of the Year, with two worthy winners selected for 2019/20 following standout campaigns.

In the Northern Conference, Kenny Hamilton continues to receive recognition for her impressive season. Hamilton was announced as the Conference’s Most Improved Player on Monday and has now followed that up with Defensive Player of the Year.

Hamilton was one of the WEABL’s top rebounders this season with 15.4 boards per game, adding a league 2nd best 5.3 steals a contest as well. Both those efforts were the 2nd best single season outputs in WEABL history as well, showing just how good Hamilton was defensively in 2019/20.

“Since playing WEABL my defence has improved incredibly because I am able to go up against some of the best players in the country and truly challenge myself,” said Hamilton.

“I feel like my defensive intensity is able to drive my teammates and make our team play better as a whole.

“I’m always prepared to guard whoever my coach wants me to guard because I do enjoy marking the best players from each team, however I still feel like there is still so much more to come in the next season and I cannot wait to see what the season brings.

“I am beyond happy to have won this award as I do pride myself on my defensive skills.”

Derby coach Paul Bowen added: “Kenny is relentless on defence and is capable of guarding all positions on the floor, she just won’t back down from anyone. When we work on defence Kenny is always tuned in.”

In the Southern Conference, the award was a close run thing between four players as CoLA’s Amelia Sandie, JMA’s Carmen Segura Moreno and Oaklands’ Louise Rouse all receiving votes, but Copleston’s Susannah Rafiu came out on top and considering the forward’s impact on Copleston’s season, it’s not hard to see why.

Rafiu did miss time during the middle of the campaign with a shoulder injury, but either side of her absence she was a formidable defensive presence and averaged a WEABL 6th best 1.8 blocks per game in 2019/20.

Averaging 9.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, the 6’3″ forward was a force on defence in the paint as well as on the perimeter and a worthy choice for this year’s award.

“It’s an honour to win this award, especially as my mentor [Esther Little] won this award last year, so it means a lot to me to follow in her footsteps,” said Rafiu.

“It’s great to be recognised for my defence, I take great pride in it, but I don’t win this award without my teammates who I am learning so much from every day.”

The WEABL awards continue tomorrow morning with the announcement of Conference All-First and All-Second teams at 10:00am.

The WEABL finals take place next Wednesday at the University of Essex, as Rafiu’s Copleston look to claim their first ever playoff title, but they’ll need to beat City of London Academy to make that a reality. Entry on the day is free for all spectators, with the ABL and WEABL finals also taking place.