Alanna Smith and Ezi Magbegor off to WNBA

ALANNA Smith and Ezi Magbegor have earned their places in the WNBA following an incredible WNBA Draft on Thursday morning for our superstar Victorians.

Alanna Smith was taken at Pick 8 while Ezi Magbegor will head to Seattle after her first round selection at Pick 12, wrapping up an incredible day for Australian basketball.

Alanna Smith is set to make an immediate influence in the WNBA having been selected at Pick 8 for the Phoenix Mercury. Joining her Opals head coach Sandy Brondello at the Mercury, Smith is set to start her professional career as strongly as she finished her incredible collegiate journey at Stanford.

The former Wesley College student first made her international debut for the Sapphires (Australia Woman’s national under-16 and under-17 Basketball Team) at the 2011 FIBA Oceania under-16 Championship in Canberra. Smith represented the Sapphires again at the Under-17 World Championship in the Netherlands the following year, where they finished in fifth place.

She then made her debut for the Gems at the 2014 FIBA Oceania Under-18 Championship in Fiji and represented the Gems at the Under-19 World Championship in Russia the following year. In that year Smith earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team, awarded to the five strongest players of the tournament, as her team achieved the Bronze medal.

Smith’s stocks continued to rise, and at age 20 was selected in the Opals team that competed in the 2017 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup. She made an immediate impact, averaging 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds, helping Australia finish the tournament as runners-up and qualify for the World Cup the following year. Her best game was the quarter-final, in which she amassed 20 points and nine rebounds in just 15 minutes of court time.

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Smith continued to add to her prodigious professional experience when she represented the Opals in the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. The Opal’s achieved a silver medal, their best finish at the tournament since winning it all in 2006, and Smith had a big part to play. Smiths forward starred averaging 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in six games, off only 14 minutes of game time, and saved her best performance until last scoring 10 points on five shots in the title game against the United States.

In recent times Smith has travelled on a long way from her home in Victoria, to spend four years at Stanford University, California. She blossomed in 2018 to become the teams leading scorer, with 19 points per game. Smith shot at 51.5 per cent from the floor and 39.7 per cent from 3-point range last season in helping the Cardinal advance to the Elite Eight, and was awarded 2019 WBCA Coaches’ All-American selection.

The 6-4 power forward boasts a remarkable skill set and is highly rated as the most prolific three-point shooter in the draft for her size.

Ezi Magbegor is set to flourish for Seattle Storm after her impressive junior career and start to life as an Opal and WNBL star. She was taken at pick 12 and will flourish for the Storm where her length and athleticism will make her a valuable asset.

Magbegor made her international debut at the 2015 FIBA under-19 World Championship in Russia, with the U19 Gems as a 16-year-old. She then represented the Under-17 Sapphires at the Oceania Championships later that year. Dominating the tournament, she averaged 18 points per game to book the Sapphires a spot in the World Cup the following year.  Magbegor stocks continued to rise, helping lead her team in snapping the USA’s 28-game winning streak at the tournament and take home an inaugural gold medal. Magbegor earned herself a spot in the All-Star team and received the Most Valuable Player award.

In December 2017, Magbegor was named to her first Opals squad and she then debuted for the national team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, helping her country win another gold medal.

Domestically, Magbegor represented the Centre of Excellence and Diamond Valley Eagles in SEABL before signing a three-year deal in March 2018 with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers in the WNBL, ignoring lucrative offers from US colleges. She went on to star in her debut season, earning the WNBL’s Betty Watson Rookie of the Year award. Following her strong WNBL Rookie campaign and her role at the Commonwealth Games, Magbegor was named to the Opals’ FIBA World Cup squad where the Opals won the Silver medal.

At just 19 years of age, Magbegor was impressive at the championships putting up 7.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Her best performance came against Argentina when put up 14 points and eight rebounds in a resounding win for the Opals.

As one of Australian Basketballs most promising talents, Ezi Magbegor skilful finishing and shot blocking around the rim has the WNBA excited about her untapped potential.

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