Sharp-shooting guard, Australian Olympian spent 2015 with Phoenix
PHOENIX – The three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury today announced the signing of veteran guard Leilani (lay-LON-ee) Mitchell. After participating in the Rio Olympics with Australia and appearing in 10 games with Washington, Mitchell returns to the Mercury after playing in all 34 games for Phoenix in 2015.
“Leilani is one of the best shooters in our game,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman. “She was an important contributor for us as our point guard in a 20-win season in 2015, and we are excited to have her back in a Mercury uniform. She gives us another guard who can create and shoot, and she helps us spread the floor with Brittney Griner down low.”
The 5-foot-5 Mitchell is a 39.9-percent career three-point shooter, the fourth-best career mark among active WNBA players and the 13th-best in the history of the league. In 2015 with Phoenix, Mitchell was fourth in the WNBA in three-point percentage (39.9 percent) and seventh in three-pointers made (44). She has finished in the top-three in the league in threes made three times in the last six seasons, and in the top-four in three-point percentage twice in that span. Mitchell averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists with the Mercury in 2015.
The daughter of an Australian mother and American father, Mitchell was raised in the U.S. and became an Australian citizen in 2014. In 2016, she played in her first Olympic Games, representing Australia in Rio, and also won a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships. A longtime member of the WNBL, Australia’s professional women’s league, Mitchell has twice been named the league’s best point guard (2014, 2016) as a member of the All-Star Five. Mitchell missed all but 10 games of the WNBA season in 2016 due to national team commitments, signing with the Washington Mystics after Rio.
Originally selected by the Mercury with the 25th overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Mitchell was traded to New York prior to her rookie season. She was the WNBA’s Most Improved Player in 2010 when she shot a league-best 48.6-percent from long range, knocking down a career-best 72 three-pointers.
Currently with the WNBL’s Sydney Uni Flames, the 31-year-old Mitchell leads her team in scoring (16.2 points, 8th-WNBL), assists (WNBL-best 6.2 assists) and steals (1.8 steals, 2nd-WNBL).
Get a front-row seat for history this summer! Diana Taurasi will open the 2017 regular season just 178 points shy of becoming the all-time leading scorer in WNBA history, as she attempts to lead the Mercury to a WNBA-record tying fourth championship. Tickets for the Fry’s Food Stores Home Opener on Sunday, May 14, and the other 16 regular-season Mercury home games can be purchased by calling 602.252.WNBA or by visiting PhoenixMercury.com.