Australian-born Taylah Simmons will join the Cougar women’s NBL1 team after winning the United States national NAIA division two player of the year in 2019-20.

The Victorian native comes finished her final year at Southeastern University as the national top-scorer with 24 points per game at 59.4% and more than 7 rebounds per game.

Prior to her time at Southeastern, Simmons spent two years at NCAA division one Wagner College, averaging 15.3 points per game in her sophomore year.

Since returning from the USA, Simmons has been training with the Southside Flyers in the WNBL before they moved into the Queensland hub last week, with attention now turning to a big 2021 in the newly announced NBL1 West.

“Tyrone was very clear about the direction of the program, the priority for incoming athletes to help future Cougars be better, and that the group was bigger than any individual – that was something I wanted to be a part of,” Simmons said.

“Having family in Perth also helps when you’re moving across the country from Melbourne, so that was a big part as well.”

Cougars Chief Executive Officer and women’s head coach Tyrone Thwaites said versatility was key to an exciting 2021 for the Cougar women, with Simmons bringing the ability to play as both a guard and a forward.

“Taylah fits the profile of our group in so many ways,” he said.

“The last few years we have not had as much length through our wing spots as we would like, and her ability to just take it off the rim and transition will complement our already fast-paced group.

“She’s also a great human being, something we are very conscious of when we bring someone new into the program. She’s a leader, a hard-worker and someone who makes her team mates better – she will be an asset to us.”

“Having been to College, and had a taste of the WNBL environment, I’m looking forward to sharing those experiences with young Cougars Tia Morgan, Ruby Benn and the rest of the young group,” Simmons said.

“I’m ready to bring positive energy and a whole lot of hard work – I can’t wait to get started in January.”

Simmons will also be assisting the U16 girls WABL program in 2021, having already spent time in Victoria this year getting her coaching certifications ahead of working with our future Cougars.

The Cougar Family can look out for a January Simmons arrival, pending border restrictions.