|10 December 2013|
|Johannah Leedham is one of two Bourges Basket players nominated for FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year|
By Paul Nilsen
No player has done more to put Great Britain on the women's basketball map than team leader Johannah Leedham, but the star has credited Valerie Garnier for facilitating her success during 2013.
The shooting guard was in limbo this time last year, or at least until the Tango Bourges play-caller came calling.
Garnier gave her an opportunity to further enhance the reputation she had built via several years of headline-making displays for the British national team - and Leedham took it with both hands.
"This past year was difficult at times if I am honest," explained Leedham.
"I was struggling to find a team after London 2012 and I am just very grateful for Coach Garnier for taking me on at Bourges and believing in me, by giving me a chance to play.
"My own highlights were simply landing myself a team and of course then winning the French Championship and placing third at EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
"Obviously trying out with Connecticut Sun in the WNBA was also a great opportunity, as well as making it to the second round of EuroBasket Women with Great Britain."
She contributed an outstanding 16.8 points and 4.5 assists per game at EuroBasket Women 2013, to propel a short-handed Great Britain to a somewhat unexpected second round berth and agonisingly close to a quarter-final place.
Ironically, Leedham replaced Swedish ace Frida Eldebrink at Bourges, a fellow FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year nominee and she continues playing alongside Celine Dumerc, the current holder of the accolade - which might mean some fun rivalry in the locker room as voting continues.
"I think no matter who you take the award off, to win or even just be considered as one of the best players in Europe is such a special feeling and moment," smiled Leedham.
"But, I am sure Bourges would be pleased to keep the award inside the club!
"I feel very honoured to even be a candidate amongst all these amazing players and it's just really exciting for me and my family."
With her unerring consistency, quick-handed defence and propensity to crash the offensive boards, the gritty style of Leedham was absolutely perfect for the backs-to-the-wall situation endured by her injury ravaged club team earlier this year and also as the leader of a national team underdog.
To see the full list of FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year candidates, click here.