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Lightning's new signing a Crystal clear coup

PERTH Lynx fans might find themselves grizzling during this WNBL season, knowing it was club stalwart and naturalised Opal Sami Whitcomb who connected Adelaide Lightning with WNBA star Crystal Langhorne.

"Sami was the one," Langhorne said when asked what she knew about Australia and the WNBL.

"She told me there was a team in Australia interested in me and it just went from there."

Where it has wound up is with Lightning scoring the biggest WNBA signing coup in the club's storied history, securing the Seattle Storm championship-winning "big" and two-time league All Star for the forthcoming 2019-20 season.

"I've also played with Abby Bishop and Jenna O'Hea, and I know Abby played for the coach here in Adelaide so I spoke with her about that too," Langhorne said.

Bishop, who first played for Adelaide in 2011-12 under Peter Buckle, was Lightning captain under current coach and reigning WNBL Coach of the Year Chris Lucas in 2017-18.

And Langhorne did not conclude her "due diligence" of the Lightning program there, either.

"I know Erin Phillips is from Adelaide so yes, I did some research." 

Langhorne, 32 and a 189cm power forward/centre, was a key player in the Storm's 2018 championship team and is ready to help take Lightning one step further than last season, having done her research there, too.

Adelaide lost the best-of-three 2019 championship series 1-2 to the University of Canberra Capitals earlier this year.

"I'm a pretty efficient player, I've always been efficient throughout my whole career and I know Adelaide went to the Finals last season," she said from Seattle.

"So now I want to help take the team one better and to the championship."

Langhorne truly is the height of efficiency when it comes to her scoring ability. In college at University of Maryland, she averaged 65 percent from the floor over a four-year career and in the WNBA she has averaged 57 percent across a 12-year career, with a high of 65 percent from the floor in 2017 for Seattle.

In a 20-point game against Atlanta Dream in 2017, she was 9-of-9 from the floor, which topped the 18 points she scored against Connecticut Sun in 2016 on 8-of-8 shooting.

No stranger to success, Langhorne won the 2006 NCAA championship with Maryland, where she averaged 16.6 points at that stellar 65 percent, 9.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists across her four-year tenure.

In 2008, she was named the Atlantic Coast Conference "Player of the Year."

In between in 2007, Langhorne led the USA to the Gold Medal at the FIBA Under-21 World Championship, averaging a team-high 15.6 points at 70 percent.

In the 96-73 Gold Medal game win over an Australian team which included Bishop, O'Hea, Lightning championshiop-winner Renae Camino and Melbourne Boomers forward and Olympian Cayla George, Langhorne had match-highs with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Drafted at #6 by Washington Mystics in 2008, she bumped her rookie average of 4.8 points to 12 in 2009, winning the WNBA's Most Improved Player award.

Traded to Seattle in 2014, she started for the Storm in every game from 2014-2017 and now in her 12th season, has been as resilient as she is efficient, missing just eight games.

A WNBA All Star in 2011 and 2013, she is the highest-credentialled import to join a Lightning roster. 

Already aware of the WNBL and several former teammates and opponents playing within it, the twin prospects of playing in a quality competition and enjoying a southern summer became irresistible.

"I've never gone anywhere (in the WNBA off-season) where it has been warm," Langhorne said, having logged international experience in Slovakia, China and Hungary.

"I'm really looking forward to the weather and being part of the Lightning team."

Langhorne's signing completes Adelaide's roster, which is Nicole Seekamp, Lauren Nicholson, Stephanie Talbot, Brianna Turner, Langhorne, Natalie Hurst, Hannah Kaser, Chelsea Brook, Laura Hodges and Sarah Elsworthy.

Aug 27

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