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Get to know the 3 Australians that have been drafted into the WNBA


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Three more Australians are making their dreams come true across the Pacific, with some of the nation’s best up and coming female basketball sensations being drafted into the WNBA.

The trio of Nyadiew Puoch, Isobel Borlase, and Jaz Shelley have been taken in with the latest draft to women’s basketball mecca, the WNBA, with the Atlanta Dream and Phoenix Mercury selecting the Aussies in mid-April at the 2024 WNBA draft.

It marks the largest selection of Australians into the league in more than two decades, and shows the ever-growing strength of the WNBL in its ability to produce top talent for the world stage.

Nyadiew Puoch was the highest Australian draft pick in this year’s class, selected with the 12th pick to the Atlanta Dream. Joining her with the Dream is Isobel Borlase, making Atlanta a side all Australians should be keeping an eye on to support.

With the 29th pick, the Phoenix Mercury went with guard Jaz Shelley out of the University of Nebraska, where she will play alongside some of the league’s biggest names in Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. There’s also quite an Australian presence in Phoenix, with Rebecca Allen and Amy Atwell in the squad, which should make her feel much more at home.

All three of them have taken different paths to get to the WNBA draft, and now officially into the league. But before they chuck on a Dream or Mercury jersey, let’s get you up to date on who they are, and just how they got to where they are today.

Who are the new Aussie players selected in the WNBA draft?

Nyadiew Puoch, Isobel Borlase, and Jazz Shelley

Australia has three new rising basketball stars in the WNBA, with the trio of Nyadiew Puoch, Isobel Borlase, and Jazz Shelley all being drafted at the WNBA draft on April 14.

A lot of headlines for the event have of course gone to Caitlin Clark who has elevated the popularity of women’s basketball immensely during her time at Iowa, where she broke NCAA records left, right, and centre, before finally moving onto the brighter lights of the WNBA.

Each of the up and coming Australian players have had different journeys they’ve travelled in order to be in the situation they find themselves in now, and you can expect it to be the same as they enter the WNBA.

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Nyadiew Puoch – 12th pick, Atlanta Dream

Going in the first round of the 2024 WNBA draft to the Atlanta Dream was now former-Southside Flyers forward Nyadiew Puoch.

Puoch is described as an athletic 6-foot-2 forward with a lethal combination of athleticism, length, skill and basketball IQ, who is only 19-years-old as she enters the WNBA — quite young when compared to number one pick Caitlin Clark (22).

She has spent two seasons in the WNBL playing with the Southside Flyer based out of Melbourne. During her tenure there, Puoch won a championship and averaged 6.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and almost a steal per game.

A real benefit she has experienced prior to the WNBA is her time spent training with Australian Opals legend Lauren Jackson at the Flyers, who Puoch says has helped her on and off the court to get better every single day.

Isobel Borlase – 20th pick, Atlanta Dream

Moving into the second round of drafting, the Atlanta Dream once again went with choosing an Australian, Isobel Borlase from the WNBL.

Interestingly according to ESPN, the former Adelaide Lightning player won’t head to the league until 2025, focusing on achieving her top goal of making the Olympics this year with the Opals instead.

“Making the WNBA hasn’t been a goal for a long time but over the last few years seeing Ezi Magbegor and Jade Melbourne go there from the WNBL has shown me what could be possible,” Borlase said prior to the WNBA draft.

Borlase is coming off the back of being crowned the WNBL Sixth Woman of the Year, averaging 15.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists a game — something the Opals and the Atlanta Dream will want on their teams moving forward.

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Opals star Isobel Borlase

Jaz Shelley – 29th pick, Phoenix Mercury

Draft night didn’t go exactly according to plan for Jaz Shelley who was initially predicted to go in the second round, before slipping to 29th in the third round.

However, it seems Shelley has landed in a good position with the Phoenix Mercury, who have a strong roster with a couple of other fellow Aussies in Rebecca Allen and Amy Atwell.

The former WNBL Rookie of the Year has played at the collegiate level with Oregon and Nebraska, where she played five seasons, a majority at Nebraska. In her final season Shelley averaged 13.4 points, 5.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals — not a bad late pick for the Mercury.

Potential and edge for Shelley over her fellow Aussies entering the WNBA is the fact that she is the only one who took the college route after playing some time back home in Australia at WNBL.

“For me it was something I wanted to try and give my best shot at,” Shelley said prior to the WNBA draft.

“I’ve had a really interesting five years and I’ve learned so much from being here (Nebraska) and am super grateful for the experience.”

When will see them play in the WNBA?

May 14, 2024

The WNBA season is just around the corner, which means we won’t have to wait long to see Australia’s three newest WNBA representatives take the floor.

Season 2024 starts May 14, with the final roster cut-down set for the day before. This season is a little different to other with the Olympic Games running through a section of it, meaning the competition will be put on hold from July 21 to August 14.

However, we could see Nyadiew Puoch, and Jazz Shelley in action as soon as May 3 when the pre-season games begin.

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