On the eve of the Southside Flyers inaugural WNBL finals campaign, star point guard Leilani Mitchell has signed with 2019 WNBA Champion Washington Mystics for the 2020 season.
“Leilani will be a terrific addition and perfect fit to our team. We loved having her when she was here before and everyone in the organization is thrilled to have her back,” said Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault in the official release. “Her leadership, ball handling, passing, and 3-point shooting will fit seamlessly with our style of play. On top of all that, she is one of the best teammates you could ask for.”
Mitchell last played for the Mystics during the 2016 season, logging 10 games, before playing the last three with the Phoenix Mercury. She made history last year in earning the 2019 WNBA Most Improved Player award, becoming the first player to ever win the award twice.
The 5-5 point guard averaged career highs of 12.8 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 30.4 minutes in 32 games last season, making her most starts (27) since the 2011 season. The numbers are even more impressive given she was waived due to salary cap constraints early in the season and did not start a single game in 2018.
Mitchell shot 44.1 percent from the field for the Mercury last season, equaling her career high and finishing well above last season’s mark of 35.1 percent. She also lifted her three-point accuracy to 43.0 percent from 34.1 percent in 2018, with this season’s figure ranking third in the WNBA. Mitchell sank a career-high 74 three-pointers, exceeding her total from the previous two seasons combined (67).
On July 30, Mitchell exploded for a WNBA record matching 8 three-pointers against the Washington Mystics, matching the WNBA single-game regular-season record, a feat that would be later eclipsed by Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell.
Mitchell's departure from Phoenix and playing under fellow Australian and head coach Sandy Brondello appears to have already been covered by her former club. The Mercury this week announced the signing Skyler Diggins-Smith and Bria Hartley. Mitchell helps fill the void left by departing point guard Kristi Tolliver who has signed with the LA Sparks.
Since the end of the WNBA season, Mitchell has been busy. She led the Southside Flyers to the top of the table in their inaugural season, and helped the Opals qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. For the Flyers, Mitchell averaged 15.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists while shooting 41.3% from three-point territory.