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SFC Brooklyn’s O’Neill inks pro contract

Former Terriers women’s basketball captain to play in native Australia

June 5, 2019 JT Torenli
Former SFC Brooklyn guard and team captain Amy O’Neill will now be playing professional women’s basketball in her native Australia, the Downtown school announced earlier this week. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics
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One week after graduating from Remsen Street’s St. Francis College, Amy O’Neill will be hooping it up at the professional level in her native Australia.

The former Terriers women’s basketball standout, who led the entire nation in assists per game during her senior season, has inked a deal to play for the Southern Sabres of the NBL1, the Downtown school announced this week.

“We are so proud of Amy signing her first professional contract,” said SFC Brooklyn head coach Linda Cimino.

“After having a record-setting career at St. Francis, it’s only fitting that she’s now earned this great opportunity to start her professional career in front of her family and friends back in Australia.”

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O’Neill, who follows former Terrier alums from Australia, Eilidh Simpson and Alex Delaney, in playing for the Sabres, racked up 8.6 helpers per contest for SFC in 2018-19, the highest average among all Division I players.

The Melbourne native also netted 10.1 points and a team-best 6.9 rebounds per contest, helping her gain a coveted spot on the Northeast Conference’s First Team.

She also received ECAC Honorable Mention, All-Met Second Team and DI-AAA ADA Scholar Athlete Team honors while amassing 268 assists this year as the Terriers won 18 games before bowing out in the quarterfinal round of the NEC Tournament.

“We wish her all the best as we know she will continue to represent St. Francis College and the Northeast Conference at the highest level,” Cimino said of O’Neill, who will likely see immediate playing time with the Sabres.

“As a senior, O’Neill was noted for her unselfishness and led the nation in assists,” added Sabres head coach Andrew Potter.

“She also filled up the stats sheet with 10.1 points and 6.9 rebounds to be a potent all-around threat and leader for her team. Amy was a real reason why the Terriers had their first winning season since 2013-14.”

While losing players like O’Neill left Cimino with a burdensome task, the soon-to-be second-year head coach is spending this offseason reloading her roster.

Cimino last week announced the additions of Alyssa Fisher, Jenna Jordan, Jada McMillan, and Melody Van Ness to the 2019-20 roster.

“Our staff was tasked with an incredible challenge to replace seven outgoing seniors,” Cimino said.

“I think that we did a good job bringing in the pieces that we need to build this program and to go further. Fortunately, we have three key pieces returning in Abby Anderson, Ally Lassen and Jade Johnson.”

While that trio will give the Terriers some continuity, Cimino hopes this influx of new players will also boost SFC back into serious contention for its first NCAA Tournament berth since the storied 2014-15 club made an historic run to March Madness under former head coach John Thurston.

Though they finished three wins shy of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years, the SFC Brooklyn women’s basketball squad appears restocked and ready for the 2019-2020 campaign. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics
Though they finished three wins shy of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years, the SFC Brooklyn women’s basketball squad appears restocked and ready for the 2019-2020 campaign. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics

“It’s not easy to bring in so many players in one class, but our staff worked really hard, we left no stone unturned, we were in gyms all over the world, and hopefully, we’ll reap the benefits of our hard work,” Cimino noted.

Fisher, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, currently attends University Laboratory High School.

The 5-foot-7 guard averaged 20.9 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.3 steals per game during her four-year run on the school’s varsity team. She was named to the USA Today/American Family Insurance All-USA Louisiana Girls Second Team.

Additionally, she earned First Team All-State and First Team All-Metro honors and reached the 1,500-point plateau.

“Alyssa Fisher is a combo guard from Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” Cimino said. “Her sister plays Division I college basketball, so it’s in her blood. She’s athletic, very quick, and she’s a good shooter. She has a really good first step, and she’s going to be able to help us early on in the backcourt with pressure defense and scoring on offense.”

Jordan, who hails from Valley Cottage, N.Y., attended Saddle River Day School, where she earned All-County honors twice and received an All-State First Team selection.

“Jenna Jordan is a steal for us,” Cimino gushed. “After originally committing to Long Island University, and due to a coaching change, we had the opportunity have her stay in Brooklyn and come play for us here at St. Francis.

“She’s a solid, strong, physical post-player, who can score in multiple ways. I anticipate that she’s going to be a top rookie in this league, and we’re very fortunate that things worked out the way they did.”

McMillan attended CFA Academy in Concord, North Carolina, where she was named conference MVP in each of her final three seasons. She led her team in rebounds, steals, blocks and also poured in more than 1,500 points during her tenure there.

“We call Jada McMillan, McBuckets,” Cimino revealed. “She’s a tremendous athlete who is very good at getting to the basket. She has the ability to play the point and the wing and is a very good defensive player.

“One thing that really impressed me during the recruiting process was her work ethic as she worked two jobs to pay for her high school tuition,” Cimino added.

Van Ness is a native of Somerville, N.J. She earned First Team All-Area, First Team All-Conference, and an All-State honorable mention during her high school career and comes to SFC after averaging 7.3 points per game as a freshman at the University of Maryland/Baltimore County before transferring.

“Melody started as a freshman at UMBC in the America East,” Cimino said. “She’s a floor general, composed at the point, and she’s somebody who can run the offense and score.

“Her experience is going to be invaluable to all the other players coming in especially the young guards. She can defend, control the pace of a game, and will have to make an immediate impact for us early on,”

This quartet of new players joins Nevena Dimitrijevic and Cayln Richardson, both of whom were added to the Terriers’ roster by Cimino back in November.

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