Basketballer Leilani Mitchell is quietly making waves in America’s WNBA.
The 34-year-old is an 11-year veteran of the WNBA but is still proving herself at the top of the sport.
She was cut by the Phoenix Mercury on May 24th, but was returned to the lineup at the start of June.
At the end of last month, she started in her first game of the season and scored a career-high 22-points to help the Mercury defeat LA and kick-start a season turnaround.
The Mercury are now climbing the ladder after a horror start to the season, to be 6 and 6, and Mitchell is proving a critical cog in the ascent.
“She controls the tempo of the game, she understands everything I want to run,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said.
“She created offense just by pushing the ball and running. She’s crafty.”
Mitchell was modest about her career-best figures.
“It’s always good when your shots go in,” she said. “Then the next one is a little bit easier to shoot.”
Mitchell said the team got sick of losing, so decided on a few changes.
“We just tried to come out as a team and be more aggressive. We weren’t really helping each other rotating too much. We probably looked too much into BG [Brittney Griner] and were getting stagnant so the focus today was to get out and run and just play free.”
Her story of underdog leadership in the US this season is very different to the one she played for the Canberra Capitals in their WNBL Title last summer.
Her maturity will be missed by the Champions of Australia’s top league later this year, after she last week announced her new deal with a yet to be named Bendigo franchise, ending her time with the Capitals.