She may boast one of Australian basketball’s most famous surnames but Shyla Heal is ready to carve out her own identity in the sport, her JCU Townsville Fire coach Shannon Seebohm says.
At just 19, the daughter of Boomers great Shane Heal has already achieved enough to make her old man proud.
She has been a standout for the Fire in the 2020 Chemist Warehouse WNBL and is again set to soak up the spotlight in Sunday’s clash with Brydens Sydney Uni Flames in Cairns.
It is not just on the domestic stage where Heal is poised to shine.
Despite her tender age, Heal is already a member of the Opals squad and is tipped to be snapped up in the 2021 WNBA Draft’s first round.
But Seebohm believes Heal is just getting started.
“It’s just the beginning for her. She is so young. She has got a lot of things she can get better at as she gets more experience,” he said.
“It will be exciting to see what she can do not just in the WNBL but hopefully the WNBA and the Opals in the future.”
Comparisons with her father will be inevitable for Heal – especially after watching the livewire point guard in action.
All the Heal trademarks are there – the speed, the footwork and that big three point bomb.
But Seebohm said Heal was not feeling the weight of expectation that came with such a famous name and was “forging her own path”.
“She has a fantastic relationship with her dad,” he said.
“He has been able to help her in terms of developing her skills and getting her game to where it is now.
“But I think she is forging her own path.
“You don’t just get those skills by turning up and playing the game.
“She has put in so much work behind the scenes. She has had to do that on her own – it (her success) is a testament to her work ethic.”
Sharpshooter Heal has launched several second half comebacks that have helped Townsville move to a 5-2 record ahead of Saturday’s clash with heavyweights Jayco Southside Flyers.
They hope to build momentum against the feisty Flames (2-4 record) on Sunday.
“I think Sydney are one of the most competitive, most physical teams in the competition – I know it will be a tough game,” Seebohm said.
The Fire will line up against a Flames outfit still buzzing from Monday’s 74-67 win over Perth Lynx set up by Funda Nakkasoglu’s 27 points and Anneli Maley’s remarkable haul of 20 rebounds.
“She (Nakkasoglu) is a great little guard and Maley is an outstanding rebounder,” Flames forward Lauren Scherf said.
“It just gives us that extra firepower to get us over the line and get the win.”
Laine Clark is a freelance contributor to WNBL.basketball
Brydens Sydney Uni Flames v JCU Townsville Fire
At Cairns Pop-Up Arena
Sunday 29 November 2020
2.00pm AEST / 3.00pm AEDT
LIVE on Fox Sports Ch 507, Kayo and the ABC primary channel plus ABC iview