Swain grateful for opportunities coming her way

February 9, 2024 | Sydney Flames news

Shaneice Swain’s name had just been called at the WNBA Draft, number 14 overall to the LA Sparks – pretty surreal for a then 19-year-old from Cairns, North Queensland.

Shaneice was the only Australian drafted in the 2023 WNBA Draft and the buzz back home was electric. Everyone loves those stories and it helped that her game is an absolute joy to watch too.

She just finished showcasing this by capturing the attention of many you need to capture the attention of, at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon. Leading the scoring department with 19 points, it was clear what kind of talent Shaneice was after just 21 minutes of action with Team World.

Bound for the WNBA

Swain had all the buzz, people started to shift their attention to the WNBA and seeing the name S. Swain on a roster.

We will see that become a reality in a short period of time as she is now officially a member of the WNBA.


Shaneice admitted that she had a feeling that she was going to get drafted at number 12 or below, but forgot the typical draft night set-up with family and friends gathered around a TV or better yet, being there in person, her whereabouts while getting drafted isn’t what you’d expect.

It’s not always bright lights and popcorn while getting drafted

On a plane home from the Nike Hoop Summit, weak wifi, and not being connected for the majority of the flight, will be interesting.

Signal found, better late than never as the flight was just about coming to an end but hello to the chaotic influx of notifications to Shaneice’s phone.

“It was very overwhelming.” (laughs)

Admitting to not knowing where to start, the first message she saw was from a family group chat and from there it was obvious what she had missed while being up in the air disconnected from the world.

Imagine gearing up for a massive milestone in your life, a dream being achieved and not even being able to live it in the moment. A strange yet almost wholesome way of achieving a goal of yours.

A really nice touch from the LA Sparks was actually surprising Shaneice in Los Angeles during a layover there and congratulating her in person. An important ‘first opinions matter’ type of moment, one that she said made her feel really good and one would assume really welcome.

Family, flowers and good vibes met her at the airport as she hit home back in Australia.

“Who’s one player, and one player only, that you are looking forward to competing within the WNBA?” was a question that stumped Shaneice for a bit.

Deep in thought, her answer wouldn’t surprise anyone at all: “Diana Taurasi”.

A new chapter in Sydney

Things were looking pretty great from the outside for Shaneice. The WNBA was a real thing now, her life was about to change and to cap it off, she had one more exciting thing on the horizon which would come into effect earlier than the Sparks, that being a new team in the WNBL.

It’s become common for a young player to be drafted into the WNBA but to take a season or so to actually join the team, see Jade Melbourne and the Seattle Storm as an example of that.


Shaneice did the same, her Canberra Capitals stint was over and she had just signed a deal with the Sydney Flames to play this season in the WNBL. This mounted on top of the overall buzz from the WNBA situation.

“I was so excited for the season and starting with a new team. I was just so excited for it. To develop my game, take it to another level before looking to go over to LA.”

One thing stood in her way, those things we all hate called injuries.

A lingering knee injury caused Shaneice to sit out for the first 12 rounds of the 23/24 Cygnett WNBL season. The frustration had to be difficult to manage on her end but it even frustrated fans (myself included) as we were super eager to watch her play.

“I felt very isolated, just being by myself isolated.”

Being stuck at home by yourself while the team is on the road has to be a challenging situation as all you can do is clock-watch and make as much progress as possible.

Shaneice explained that she’s very relaxed off the court so no new hobbies were found during her time rehabbing, just many chats with her two young nieces over the phone which spoke to what a family person she is.

Game one

The news was released, “Shaneice Swain to make Sydney Flames debut” and the excitement started to build. It may have taken to Round 13 but the time had come.

“In the lead up to it I was super excited, like so excited to play, counting down the days and then when it started getting a little closer… I was getting super nervous. Couldn’t sleep, thinking about everything that could happen in the game.”

Now I don’t know about you but when I watch Shaneice play one of the very first words that comes to mind is “confident” but that doesn’t stop the pre-game nerves.

“Before the game, I started feeling sick. I feel like that’s just how I’ve always been though. I was like that in Canberra.”

“You’ve played in the WNBL before, you’re stronger now, this isn’t new for you” were similar phrases Shaneice was saying in her mind to hype herself up.

“Once I got my first assist, my first bucket, I was rolling from there.”

It may be an awkward feeling coming back into the line-up with only a couple of games left in the regular season, but all Shaneice could say is that she’s grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m just grateful that I can play. Just being able to step out on the court, some people don’t get that opportunity so I’m just super grateful for it.”

Under the radar talent

I love asking young stars this question.

Every player on the rise usually receives their own fair share of attention but I’m always curious who that next one will be. Who may potentially be where Shaneice Swain or Jade Melbourne are in a few years.

I asked Shaneice to give some love to someone potentially flying too far under the radar in the WNBL.

“I think Saffron Shiels. She’s pretty tough. She’s a big guard too. I like her game, she can handle the ball. If she really gets to play play, she’d be tough.”

For context, Izzy Borlase mentioned Saffron Shiels as well when I asked her this question so there’s one to jot down.

Next steps

As mentioned before, it’s an awkward thing to make your debut with a new side 13 rounds in, but I was curious on an individual level, what Shaneice was hoping to get out of the rest of the season.

“Even before I went into the season, I told myself I wanted to get better defensively. Just focus on defence and then I know my offence will come.”

Defence was emphasised by Shaneice which I quite enjoyed. Other notes were getting stronger and improving her decision-making.

It took a while but her Sydney days are finally here. Let’s enjoy them as her next stop will be Los Angeles.

– story written by Darren Barker.