All Star Kayla Cullen named 2011 Best Young Player

Staff Writers, Tuesday, 17 May 2011.

LG Mystics defender Kayla Cullen's star continues to rise, with the announcement today that she is the winner of the ANZ Championship's 2011 Best Young Player award.

This follows Cullen's inclusion last week in the official ANZ Championship All Star Team, in just her second season with the world's best netball league.

Like 2010 recipient, Sharni Layton, Cullen has been named the competition's Best Young Player in the build up to her first ever ANZ Championship Grand Final appearance.

And in a further parallel to last year's Best Young Player announcement, Cullen was unanimously selected by the judging panel, comprising national selectors and former international representatives from Australia and New Zealand.

Cullen was let in on the secret that she had won the award straight after the Mystics' stunning one-goal Preliminary Final victory on Sunday night. The elated All Star stated "That is so awesome! I feel really honoured to be chosen from a group of such talented athletes.

"It's been such an amazing year, I just love being a part of this team. Now I can't wait to take on the Firebirds next Sunday".

Cullen received the maximum possible 20 votes, ahead of Chelsea Pitman (Mission Queensland Firebirds, 15 votes) and Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick (First Windows Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic, 12 votes).

This is the second consecutive year in which Cullen was nominated for the Best Young Player award. After only making five appearances for the Mystics last season, the 19 year-old has played every game of the 2011 ANZ Championship, slotting in to her defence position beautifully alongside fellow All Star Anna Scarlett, a veteran of 51 test caps.

Accumulating season highs of four intercepts in last week's Preliminary Final, and six rebounds and seven gains in the Minor Semi-Final, Cullen has already shown that she relishes the pressure of finals netball. She will need to produce another stand-out performance if the Mystics are to overcome the as-yet undefeated Firebirds in the Grand Final this Sunday.

DOB: 13/2/92

Height: 1.85cm

2011 totals

Average per Game

Notes

Games

15

-

Up to and including Prelim Final

Goal Assists

3

-

Centre Pass Receives

111

7.4

4th for Mystics

Rebounds

18

1.2

3rd for Mystics

Intercepts

19

0.6

3rd for Mystics

Deflections

51

3.4

2nd for Mystics

Gains

49

3.3

2nd for Mystics

Turnovers

14

0.9

Penalties

157

10.5

2nd highest for Mystics

Pickups

29

1.9

3rd for Mystics

Cullen was a member of the 2010 World Netball Series Champions, the FastNet Ferns, and is currently a member of New Zealand's 21/U squad. In a stellar season for the LG Mystics, Cullen has flagged herself as a talent to watch in years to come.

The Best Young Player is an official TTNL Award, designed to recognise emerging stars in the world's best netball league. It sits alongside the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award as an acknowledgment of outstanding performance by an individual.

The 2011 MVP winner will be announced on Thursday 19 May.