Basketball: Claire Paxton off to Denver

Claire Paxton, left, has played for Scotland
Claire Paxton, left, has played for Scotland
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One of Scotland’s most promising young basketball players is heading off to the United States on an athletics scholarship.

Claire Paxton, a 6ft 1in forward who has just turned 19 and had an outstanding tournament for the GB junior women’s team in the recent European Championships in Bulgaria, is certainly going up in the world as her new team is the Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, near the “Mile High” city of Denver.

CCU is a NCAA division II side and Paxton has been given the opportunity to play for them as one of their roster for the new season, due to start next month.

“I want to play at a higher level and push myself more,” said Paxton, whose father Iain is the former British Lions and Scotland rugby legend. “My dad’s encouraged me to go for it.”

Paxton’s move will be a huge blow for both of her clubs, Scottish League champions Polonia Phoenix and Edinburgh University, whom she helped to climb back into the Northern Premier League of the British Universities Championships last season.

Ironically, Edinburgh University are just about to announce the name of their new women’s coach.

Polonia, who will be coached by SportsScotland chief executive Stewart Harris for another season, have suffered two more blows with the announcement that their outstanding veteran Scottish internationalist Les Jackson (née Marshall) is hanging up her boots after a playing career lasting well over three decades and Ali Mitchell, another Scottish cap who has served both Polonia and Edinburgh University well, is away travelling to New Zealand.

Jackson will not be lost to the sport, however, as she is to assist Harris with the senior women’s coaching, while Mitchell’s elder sister, Cathy, another fine competitor, is returning to the fold after a spell in Australia.

Also making a welcome return to the national league is former cap Elise Lovell, who is stepping back up from the Lothian league team.

With Scottish senior caps Lynsey Lochhead and Julie Ritchie, and GB junior guard Hilary Wood still there Polonia should still be competitive though they will hope that EU student and Scottish junior cap Beth Potter will make a speedy return after ankle surgery.