The University of Canberra Capitals has added Olympian, WNBL championship-winner and three-time all-star Leilani Mitchell to its roster for the 2018/19 WNBL season.
Mitchell has signed a one-year deal and will return to Australia to resume her decorated WNBL career following a stint overseas.
The 32-year-old is currently playing for Turkish club Hatay in the EuroCup, where she is averaging 13 points and four assists.
Mitchell is no stranger to the WNBL, last playing in competition in 2016/17. She guided the Sydney Uni Flames to a drought-breaking title win – the club’s first in 16 years – and was named the most valuable player in the grand final.
“I love Australia and the WNBL and I’m so happy to have the chance to return and be a part of the University of Canberra Capitals in 2018/19,” Mitchell said.
“The opportunity to come to Canberra was too good to pass up. I’ve heard great things about the UC Capitals and I was really attracted to the idea of being able to grow my game in a new environment.
“The UC Capitals boast a proud history and now I have the chance to contribute to and be a part of that.”
Mitchell, a former Australian Opal, had hoped to be part of the national side’s campaign at next month’s Commonwealth Games, but a season schedule clash forced her to withdraw from selection contention.
The American-born point guard, who has played for almost a decade in the WNBA, hopes the move back to Australia will reignite her international career, which started with a flourish in 2014 when she helped the Opals win bronze at the FIBA World Championships. In 2016, she led the Opals to the quarter-finals at the Rio Olympics.
“Playing for the Opals is always the goal,” she said. “The world championships are coming up and hopefully I can stay healthy to compete for a spot in the team.”
Mitchell is the third player to commit to the club for the 2018/19 season. She joins Kelsey Griffin and Lauren Scherf, with head coach Paul Goriss expected to unveil more signings in the coming weeks.
Goriss said Mitchell oozed talent and experience and would have a significant impact at the club.
“We have recruited a genuine clutch player in Leilani Mitchell,” Goriss said. “She has proven all over the world that she can make big shots and big plays.
“Leilani has an extremely high basketball IQ and will contribute greatly to the fabric of our team in 2018/19. She goes about her basketball and the game with such ease and professionalism.
“Leilani is a leader on court and makes players around her better. She is a great competitor and a real team player, which fits with the type of squad we are putting together this season.”
The UC Capitals will be the fourth WNBL club Mitchell has played for. Before her success with the Flames, she was at the Dandenong Rangers (2013/14) and Adelaide Lightning (2015/16).
Mitchell was named a WNBL All Star Five player in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Following the EuroCup season, Mitchell will head to North America in May to contest the WNBA season with Phoenix Mercury before linking up with her new teammates in Canberra later this year.
Photo supplied by FIBA