Izzy Borlase – Right here, right now

January 5, 2024 | WNBL news

Written by Darren Barker, Features Writer


Right here, right now


19 years old, establishing yourself as a quality WNBL player in your third season with the Adelaide Lightning, trying to focus on the present, do some sudoku’s in your down time and not look ahead to your name being on ESPN’s latest WNBA mock draft at #12.


The current status of Izzy Borlase.


Seeing the mock draft makes it all real.


The WNBA, moving overseas, the Opals, these are all massive things for a 19 year old.


People like myself don’t help Izzy stay in the moment, I’ll admit, but I had to ask the question about her future!


“I really try not to look ahead, I wouldn’t say I’m that good at it to be honest. I feel like as a young athlete it’s easy to potentially get carried away with what could be but yeah, it’s definitely something I’m working on cause you know, I’ve got a game tomorrow and things are getting talked about a couple months down the track.”


A WNBL game tomorrow, me asking about getting drafted into the WNBA today, you’re welcome Izzy.


It would honestly be very challenging staying in the present so I appreciate her talking about this openly.


“Sometimes it’s exciting when you start to think about it but sometimes you can go down a hole when you think about it too much and it’s like woah, I’m actually right here, right now.”


Izzy understood where I was coming from, I hope, as I was simply excited to chat with her about it and at the end of the day I’m just a basketball fan like many others. It’s intriguing, it’s exciting for many.


“I think it’s exciting. If I’m being completely honest I knew that I was eligible for the draft this year but when that mock draft came out I was like wow, I was quite shocked to be honest to see that my name was that high in the first round but you never know what can happen. So obviously I’m really excited but you know, there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge and we’ll just see how it plays out.”


“A lot of water to go under the bridge.” – Izzy is clearly prepared for the media attention about to come her way with these cliché lines at the ready.


(laughing) “Maybe don’t use that.”



Izzy’s rise to the present day


It has got to feel like it has happened quickly for Borlase. It wasn’t that long ago where she played just one game in her debut WNBL season back in 2021. Fast forward to 2022 where she averaged 13.5 PPG and right now at the start of 2024 she’s sitting at 15 PPG in her third year and is basically the face of the Adelaide Lightning with Steph Talbot sitting out due to injury.


Not many people, let alone at 19 years old, let alone Australians, have their name near the top end of WNBA Draft conversations so it must be a whirlwind right now for Borlase.


“I definitely didn’t plan it out to go this way. A lot has happened in the past 18 months since my first real full season. I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve learned a lot.”

Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images


Keeping you grounded


You know why parents are so important? Regardless of how ‘big’ you get in the world, you will always be their kid and they will always bring you back down to earth.


“I get people like you, my coaches, everyone just like hyping you up and it’s really good and then you come home and my family just bring me back down to earth which is a good thing, it’s a nice balance.”


You actually need that. Those people that remind you where you came from, your family, your friends, the things that really matter and the things that will never stop motivating you.


We all make a big deal out of mock drafts, and rightly so at times, but often as fans we get caught in this basketball bubble. That being a bubble where we literally think ball is life and forget that not everyone knows about these things, including Mr and Mrs. Borlase.


“I literally showed Mum and Dad the mock draft… they were just like, oblivious to all that stuff.”



The signs of a leader


When talking about this WNBL season I thoroughly enjoyed Izzy almost immediately taking accountability for some close losses Adelaide have had and said she could have done more to help. It’s a little thing but it shows leadership qualities already. Ticking boxes.


I had to force out of her one thing and one thing only, that she wants to improve on while talking about helping her team.


“Creating my own shot in different ways. Whether that’s like, a pull-up game or floaters, because I think I’ve got an ok 3 point shot, getting to the ring really well but finding that middle ground.”


It always interests me how players answer that question.



The Green & Gold effect, representing Australia


Whenever basketball players talk about representing Australia their eyes typically light up. It’s such a big thing to almost every one of them and Borlase is no different.


After Opals Head Coach Sandy Brondello told ESPN that “She’s going to definitely be an Opal”, Izzy admitted that it is nice to hear those things and she spoke with Sandy after a game in Adelaide earlier this season.


“The thought of representing Australia at any sort of level is just so exciting. There’s only a small group of people that get to do it.”


A small ground indeed but a group I think Borlase will be part of very soon.

Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images


The worldwide rise of women’s basketball


Women’s basketball is on the rise full stop, and a big part of that is credited to the NCAAW and specifically their Tournament last season which many eyeballs tuned into. At the top of that conversation is Caitlin Clark whose name continues to climb to pretty insane levels.


As a fan and as a player it’s hard not to see Clark’s highlights on your feed and take in what she is doing for women’s basketball.


“Seeing what Caitlin Clark is doing in college is amazing. I’ve never seen someone shoot the ball like she does.”


If you are talking about young Aussie talent there’s a few names that will come to mind for most.


Yes very good, Izzy Borlase – check.


Sitting at #7 on the same ESPN WNBA mock draft, Nyadiew Puoch – check.


But the other name is Jade Melbourne who I am a big advocate for.


“Who isn’t a big Jade fan?” was Izzy’s response to me complimenting her. Fair point, I’m not sure who wouldn’t be a fan of hers.


Melbourne is also one that is currently bridging the WNBL to WNBA gap and paving the way for players like Borlase. She’s suiting up with the Canberra Capitals right now and will be heading back to Seattle post-season.


My point here was really to get some other names from Borlase, some Australian talent that may be flying under the radar, some dark horses if you will.


Maybe slightly bias but Izzy spoke very highly of best friend and teammate Tayla Brazel, as she did with Townsville’s Saffron Shiels – “She’s going to be very, very good once she gets a bit older.”


The other was Dallas Loughridge who has returned from an ACL injury this season with the Southside Flyers. Izzy pointed to one element of Dallas as a person that impressed her the most, hard work.


“Dallas works so hard. She’s probably one of the hardest workers that I’ve got to play with before.”


Every basketball fan, coach and scout is a sucker for hard work, so that was an enjoyable insight.



Finding a ‘side hustle’


I said it above but I’ll say it again, talk to any Australian athlete and they’ll tell you how special it is to represent Australia but any athlete in general will tell you how important it is to have that ‘side hustle’. That activity away from basketball that allows them to escape from the world of sport for a moment or two.


“I’m working on finding a hobby. That’s why I need to get good at reading.”


While it may not be there yet for Borlase, I could tell that she understood what an important role having things outside of basketball is for her.


Izzy sounds like a big beach person. Surfing, walking along the sand, catching up with friends, that sounds like her side hustle right now. A pretty great side hustle if you ask me.


“Catching up with friends away from basketball is super important to me at the moment because like you said it can be a lot sometimes.”


Another example of finding ourselves in the basketball bubble and the importance of finding people on the outside of it.


Izzy currently studies Human Movement at University with ambitions to move into Occupational Therapy later on, she also teaches swimming so while she may not have that one specific passion outside of basketball, she certainly has a few things on the go.


Borlase has a bright future on the court which I’m stoked to follow, but it’s sometimes missed what players are into off the court so I look forward to following the journey of both.


Good luck getting more into reading Izzy, I am also trying to do the same.



Written by Darren Barker



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