Basketball: Cassidy McLean back on court and shooting for the top

BOUNCE BACK: Cassidy McLean is nearing full fitness after reconstructive surgery on her knee.
BOUNCE BACK: Cassidy McLean is nearing full fitness after reconstructive surgery on her knee.

Cassidy McLean has learnt that nothing is guaranteed.

It's the reason the 20-year-old basketball star has been methodical in her rehabilitation from a ruptured interior cruciate ligament, despite an aching to return to the court.

And it's why she thought long and hard before signing with NBL One club Bendigo Braves - the first step towards a return to the WNBL.

Since surgery to reconstruct her right knee last March after crashing to the floor five minutes into the Newcastle Hunters season opener, McLean has ticked every box, some twice.

"I have intentionally not rushed it," she said. "It is especially hard when you are watching the WNBL and you can't be out there. The Hunters women won the championship and I only played five minutes of it. All you want to do is get back and play basketball, but you have to think what in the long run will be best.

"It has been hard, but the toughest part is behind me now. I feel stronger and faster than I was before. I have been able to do more and explore more, now it is just the mental aspect and getting back on to the court."

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Cassidy McLean is assisted from the court five after damaging her knee. Pictures: Marina Neil

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Cassidy McLean is assisted from the court five after damaging her knee. Pictures: Marina Neil

McLean starts pre-season training in Bendigo in March. Having played a season for the Bendigo Spirit in the WNBL, she has a feel the city and knows the strength of the basketball program.

"There were a few other clubs interested and there was also the option to stay at home," the guard said.

"I have been in Bendigo previously, the facilities are second to none and their program is really good. They have a great pathway and I thought it was the best opportunity for me to get back into the WNBL.

"Leaving here was a really hard decision. Newcastle have an amazing program. That is shown in the success of the junior teams, the number of participants and how far the association has come in the past few years.

"Unfortunately the NBL 1 league didn't proceed in NSW. Newcastle were all for it. Playing NBL 1 is the next step towards the WNBL but unfortunately not all NSW clubs agreed. Newcastle have suffered in that sense."

ON FIRE: Newcastle guard Alison Ebzery has joined the Townsville Flames for the NBL One North season.

ON FIRE: Newcastle guard Alison Ebzery has joined the Townsville Flames for the NBL One North season.

As well as McLean, championship-winning guard Alison Ebzery has joined NBL One North club Townsville Flames after a breakout season in the WNBL with the Townsville Fire.

McLean hopes it's not long before she is back on the national stage.

"Nothing is guaranteed, I have to get on the court and perform first," she said.