Home Australia Aussie ‘best friends’ drafted to same WNBA team as superstar Caitlin Clark enters pro league

Aussie ‘best friends’ drafted to same WNBA team as superstar Caitlin Clark enters pro league

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Nebraska's Jaz Shelley raises her arms while defending Iowa's Caitlin Clark during a college basketball game.

Australia’s Nyadiew Puoch was taken 12th overall in the WNBA draft, joining her old friend Izzy Borlase on the Atlanta Dream.

Borlase was selected 20th overall in the second round, eight after Puoch and 19th after college basketball superstar Caitlin Clark was confirmed as the number one pick by the Indiana Fever.

The Fever taking Clark had been a foregone conclusion since he announced in February that he would turn pro, with nearly 17,000 tickets claimed to watch the draft at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home of the Fever and the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

“I’ve dreamed about this moment since I was in second grade and it took a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, but more than anything, just trying to take it in,” Clark said.

29th Australian national team Jaz Shelley (left) faced superstar Caitlin Clark (right) several times at university level.(Getty Images: Adam Bettcher)

She joins a Fever team that features last year’s No. 1 pick, Aaliyah Boston, and hopes the combination of the 2023 rookie of the year with the leading scorer in college basketball history can end a seven-season streak without a place in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, power forward Puoch and point guard Borlase join a Dream Team that ended its own four-year drought last season thanks to 2022 No. 1 pick Rhyne Howard.

Puoch was celebrating her own team when she was told she was going to play with her friend and compatriot.

“Are you serious? Oh my God, that’s incredible,” ESPN reporter Kane Pitman told him.

“Izzy and I are like best friends.”

Borlase and Puoch have been linked for most of their basketball journeys, developing at the Australian Basketball Center of Excellence and playing together at the 2021 and 2023 Under-19 World Cups.

They were split in Australia’s WNBL, with Borlase playing for the Adelaide Lightning, while Puoch reached back-to-back finals with the Southside Flyers, winning this year’s title.

Adelaide Lightning's Isobel Borlase defends Southside Flyers' Nyadiew Puoch in the WNBL.

Nyadiew Puoch (left) and Isobel Borlase (right) played in the WNBL for the Flyers and Lightning respectively.(Getty Images: Kelly Defined)

Borlase also helped the Opals qualify for this year’s Olympics and has been selected in the expanded squad for the Paris Games, which will be reduced from 27 to 12 in the coming months.

Jaz Shelley ensured there was an Australian selected in all three rounds of the draft, and the Nebraska alum was taken 29th overall by the Phoenix Mercury, where she will join compatriots Bec Allen and Amy Atwell.

She will also get to play with WNBA legend Diana Taurasi.

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