September 3, 2020 | Southside Flyers news

LEILANI MITCHELL BACK AND READY TO GO ONE BETTER

Leilani Mitchell, winner of the inaugural Flyers MVP trophy, has confirmed she will be part of the Flyers campaign for the 2020-21 championship race, adding to the excitement for Flyers fans for the upcoming season.

Selected in the WNBL All-Star team after a terrific season with the Flyers, where she led the league’s best offence with her superb playmaking at point guard. Mitchell averaged 15.7 points and 5.2 assists while also shooting 42% from beyond the arc.

Currently playing for the Washington Mystics in the WNBA which is being played in a bubble in Florida (and leading the team in assists), Leilani said she was looking forward to returning to the Flyers team for the 2020-21 season.

“I’m beyond excited to continue playing for the Southside Flyers. I was honored to be a part of the Flyers inaugural season and can’t wait to get back with the girls and continue our quest for the championship.

“I know that we will all return hungry and willing to work hard, build on our team chemistry, and have fun! It’s a wonderful organization that truly cares for the players. It goes beyond basketball. The Management, coaches, teammates, and fans make the Southside Flyers the best organization to be a part of,” Leilani said between games from Florida.

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It is no surprise that coach Cheryl Chambers is thrilled that Leilani will be back with the Flyers for the upcoming season.

“It’s awesome Lei is back for the Flyers. She makes other players better, her IQ is off the charts, she’s a professional and along with that, she is a great person.

“Lei has an uncanny knack of finding a score under pressure, she can shoot the 3, she can get to the basket and she can also find an open teammate when she needs to. It is fair to say I’m ecstatic she’s back playing for our team,” said Cheryl.

Flyers supporters will be as thrilled as the coach to have Mitchell back for the team. The ‘pocket rocket’ is a crowd favourite, on and off the court.

Mitchell has had a wonderful career that has included a successful college career in the USA and 11 seasons in the WNBA, as well as impressive stints in France and Croatia. In her final year at College, at the University of Utah, she was named the Conference Player of the Year and was then selected 25th overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft.

Adding to her list of achievements was being inducted into the University of Utah Hall of Fame, an honour she if very proud of.

Her WNBA career started with New York Liberty in (2010-2014), Phoenix Mercury (2014-15 and 2017-19) and Washington Mystics (2016) where she has returned for the current season.

A two-time WNBA Most Improved Player (2019, 2010), Mitchell is the only player in WNBA and NBA history to ever win the award in more than one season.

Although only playing ten games in 2016 due to her Olympic Games campaign with the Opals, Mitchell clearly left a positive impression with the Coach of the Washington Mystics, Mike Thibault, who is still in the role.

“We loved having her when she was here before and everyone in the organisation is thrilled to have her back. Her leadership, ball handling, passing, and 3-point shooting will fit seamlessly with our style of play. On top of all that, she is one of the best teammates you could ask for,” Thibault said in the lead up to the season.

Born in the USA, Mitchell grew up in Washington State in the Pacific North West of the United States and her first season in Australia was in the 2013/14 WNBL season with the Dandenong Rangers. As well as last season with the Flyers, her WNBL career includes seasons with Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra.

Mitchell has been a regular member of the Australian national team, the ‘Opals’, since 2014, when the team won a bronze medal in the 2014 World Championships and was a member of the 2016 Olympic team in Brazil. Unfortunately, injury kept her out of the Opals team for the 2018 FIBA World Cup. Earlier this year she was selected in the 2020 Opals squad in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

A look at the major awards she has won confirms her status in women’s basketball and highlights why the Flyers are thrilled Leilani Mitchell will be back in action for the Southside Flyers in the 2020-21 season.

Major Awards:

  • WNBA: Most Improved Player of the Year 2010, 2019
  • WNBL: All-Star Five 2014 and 2020
  • WNBL: Golden Hands Award 2015
  • WWNBL Champion: 2017 & 2019
  • FIBA World Championship: 2014 (Bronze)
  • LFB (France): Import Player of the Year: 2010
  • Mountain West Conference (College USA) Player of the Year: 2008
  • University of Utah Women’s Basketball Legend

Leilani will be back with the Flyers at the conclusion of the WNBA season prior to the commencement of the WNBL 2020-21 season.

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