Ipswich Force head coach and SEQ Stars co-coach Brad George.
Ipswich Force head coach and SEQ Stars co-coach Brad George. Rob Williams

Major signings boost Ipswich Force state league hopes

SHE'S an athletic Jamacian captain coming from New York to play.

He's a National Basketball League prospect bringing height and added quality.

Together, Shenneika Smith and Brent Wallace provide an exciting boost for Ipswich's two Force teams preparing for the fast-approaching state league seasons.

Smith is due to arrive in Ipswich next month after playing college basketball.

She is still captain of the Jamacian team, having accepted an invite from Force head coach Brad George to join Ipswich's 2016 Queensland Basketball League campaign.

"She wants to come out and prove herself,'' George said of the St John's guard/forward drafted by the Women's NBA.

In her 2012/13 season at St John's, Smith was considered one of the best wings in the country and top defenders in the Big East Conference.

"I liked her style,'' George said of the New York Liberty player.

"She's long and athletic, like 6 five (tall).''

George said Smith's fine leadership qualities would be important with Force losing their two previous imports Chelsie Schweers and Brandi Brown.

With negotiations for a second import continuing, George is confident Smith will work well with Ipswich's Women's NBL player Bree Farley and other Force regulars.

"She'll be great,'' he said. "She's a really good person and unselfish player.''

The Ipswich men's and women's teams host their first state league matches against the Gold Coast on April 30.

While the women begin training next week, the men have been working hard buoyed by some key additions.

Wallace is the latest Force recruit, being a development player with the Townsville Crocs in the NBL.

"We are really excited to have him on board,'' Force head coach Mick Conlon said.

"He's six foot 11 and about 120kg. He's a huge target for us in the paint now. He's going to provide the size in the middle that we were lacking last year.''

Wallace has already joined the Ipswich program "training the house down'' according to Conlon.

"Apart from his sheer size, he's fitted in really well with the team already,'' the Force coach said.

"He's a positive person. He wants to succeed and wants to get better.''

Wallace's arrival comes after the Force men earlier signed former US college player and another NBL prospect Jaryd Eustace.

With American imports James Legan and Kyle Harvey remaining with Force, Conlon is excited about how his team is developing in its bid to go one better than making last year's playoffs.


SEQ team's star effort heading into WNBL final

GIVEN his increased role with the SEQ Stars, Brad George has been busier than usual in the Queensland Basketball League off-season.

However, he's keen to bring his new knowledge to the Ipswich Force program after travelling to Townsville this weekend.

The SEQ Stars have exceeded expectations in qualifying for Sunday's Women's National Basketball League preliminary final against the competition's top side.

After eliminating the Dandenong Rangers 86-82 last weekend, SEQ have a chance to create more basketball history this weekend.

Despite a series of challenges this season - including financial hardship and losing head coach Shane Heal - the Stars have been a powerful combination.

"It's been unbelievable how the girls have handled it,'' said George, who has been SEQ co-coach with Megan Thompson.

"Nothing sort of bothers them. They just keep turning up and getting it done.''

Having beaten Townsville twice this season, the Stars have plenty of incentive to make the grand final.

The team includes Force player Brett Farley, who will rejoin the Ipswich side after completing her WNBL commitments.

Meanwhile, Ipswich has nine of their 14 junior representative teams involved in BQJBC semi-finals this weekend.

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