On Monday 11 April Australian teenager Jade Melbourne was selected in the 2022 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft by Seattle Storm in the third round with pick 33 overall. At 19 years of age quick point guard Melbourne has already played two Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) seasons with the University of Canberra Capitals and made her debut with Australia’s senior women’s basketball team, the Opals as part of the bronze medal winning team at the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup held in Jordan.
The selection of Melbourne continues a rich history between Australian players and Seattle Storm. Australians that have played in the WNBA for Seattle have won 14 WNBL Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards between them comprised of Suzy Batkovic (6 time WNBL MVP winner and the award is now named the Suzy Batkovic Medal in her honour), Lauren Jackson (4 time WNBL MVP), Katrina Hibbert (2 time WNBL MVP), Abby Bishop (2014/15 WNBL MVP) and current Storm player Steph Talbot (2020 WNBL MVP). Five time All-WNBL first team member Jenna O’Hea played three seasons with Seattle from 2014 to 2016 and was the captain of the Opals 2018 World Cup silver medal winning team.
Australia’s greatest ever basketball player, forward/centre Jackson played her entire WNBA career from 2001 to 2012 with Seattle Storm, was selected in the All-WNBA First team seven times, won three WNBA MVP Awards – 2003, 2007 and 2010 and won four Olympic medals with the Australian Opals. Jackson played in the Storm’s first two WNBA championships in 2004 and 2010 alongside Sue Bird and won the 2010 WNBA Finals MVP Award.
Point guard Bird is a 12 time WNBA All-Star, five time All-WNBA first team selection, has won five Olympic Gold Medals with the USA Women’s basketball team and has the distinction of being the only player to play in all four of Seattle’s WNBA Championships in 2004, 2010, 2018 and 2020.
After the 2022 WNBA draft Melbourne told heraldsun.com.au “Sue Bird just mentioned me in her Instagram story, I was fan girling. It’s hard to believe I’ve been drafted to the team she’s won four championships with and been a legend for.”1
Seattle’s quartet of players – Bird, Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Mercedes Russell that each started more than 24 regular season games for Seattle in 2021 are playing for the club again in 2022. Stewart and Loyd were both selected in the 2021 All-WNBA First Team.
Two Australian’s, Ezi Magbegor and Steph Talbot were part of Seattle’s core rotation in 2021, averaging more than 15 minutes per game and have both re-signed with the Storm for the 2022 WNBA season.
Most of the players eligible to be selected at the 2022 WNBA Draft had attended college in the United States of America and turn 22 years of age in the year ended 31 December 2022. As a player that has not attended college and resides outside the United States of America Melbourne was part of a smaller group of ‘international players’ that were eligible for the 2022 WNBA draft if they turned 20 years old in the year ended 31 December 2022.
It is not uncommon for international players to spend an additional one or two seasons playing overseas before joining the WNBA club that drafted them, a prime example is current Storm player Magbegor who was drafted at 19 years of age by Seattle with the 12th pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft, remained in Australia for another year and joined Seattle for the 2020 season.
Melbourne will remain in Australia during the 2022 WNBA season and playfor the Ballarat Miners in NBL1 South. On 14 April 2022 Melbourne told WNBL.basketball “I won’t head over there straight away… I told them Friday before the draft that I wasn’t going to be coming over immediately, I just want another year to develop my game and improve and then give it a real crack at training camps.”2
Remaining in Australia during 2022 also maximises Melbourne’s availability for Australian Opals camps and games in the lead up to the 2022 FIBA World Cup held in Sydney from 23 September to 3 October.
Jade Melbourne was born in the most southern state on mainland Australia – Victoria who’s capital city is Melbourne, however contrary to her name Jade was born and grew up the country Victorian town Traralgon, located approximately 163 kilometres east of Melbourne. Jade’s junior basketball club was the Traralgon Thunderbirds.
At several junior national championships Melbourne represented Vic Country and she was a member of medal winning junior Australian teams at the 2017 FIBA Under 16 Women’s Asia Cup and 2018 FIBA Under 17 Women’s World Cup.
In January 2019 Melbourne commenced a basketball scholarship in Canberra with the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (BA CoE). During 2019 Melbourne represented the BA CoE against senior women’s teams in the NBL1 season.
Melbourne captained the Australian Gems at the 2021 FIBA Under 19 Women’s World Cup held in Hungary from 7-15 August and had an exceptional tournament to average 12.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists. The Gems won the silver medal and Melbourne was selected in the Under 19 Women’s World Cup All-Star five.
At senior level Melbourne has made an impact in her first two WNBL seasons with the University of Canberra Capitals in 2020 and 2021/22. Less than three months after her 18th birthday Melbourne made her WNBL debut as a starter in the Capitals opening game of the 2020 season on 11 November. In Melbourne’s fourth WNBL she scored a game-high 20 points and in her seventh game against Cairns she made a match-winning three-pointer for Canberra with just seven seconds remaining in the last quarter.
During the 2021/22 with the Capitals 178 centimetre tall Melbourne started all 16 games on the bench and scored at least 18 points in a game three times. Melbourne ranked fifth at the University of Canberra Capitals for scoring per game in both 2020 and 2021/22. In the 2021/22 WNBL Awards Melbourne finished third in the Sixth Woman of the Year Award and third in the Betty Watson Rookie of the Year Award with fellow Seattle roster member Magbegor winning the latter award.
Melbourne was one of nine Australian’s that made their debut for the Opals at the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup. Former Seattle player Sami Whitcomb was the captain of the Opals team that won the bronze medal at the Asia Cup held in Jordan.
In the WNBL Fast Break Series – Jade Melbourne video published on 12 November 2021, host Jess Robinson asked “I’m sure you’ve heard but topic of conversation at Asia Cup in the commentary box was just how electric you were, there was some incredible images and vision coming out of just you lighting up the court just with the energy getting everyone up and about. How does it make you feel when you hear commentators or people around the league and fans say that Jade Melbourne is my favourite young player to watch?” Melbourne responded “I guess for me it is just me being myself really, like I’ve always been super energetic and I always love getting around other people and stuff like that so it is nothing new to me but yeah, it is cool hearing those sorts of comments.”
Jade Melbourne’s basketball career from junior level in Country Victoria and for Australia through to playing with the University of Canberra Capitals in the WNBL, the Australian Opals at the 2021 Asia Cup and being selected in the third round of the 2022 WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm is covered in more detail below.
Early life and junior career
Jade Melbourne was born on 18 August 2002, her parents are Brett and Sharon and she has two younger sisters. Jade grew up in Traralgon, a country Victorian town in Gippsland with a population of approximately 28,000 people.
On her introduction to playing basketball Melbourne told AusHoopers TV during Season 2, Episode 5 on 8 April 2021 “I got a hoop for Christmas when I was like five years old and then from there I was kind of always in the backyard shooting hoops and then mum got in contact with someone she knew from basketball, got me into a team and from then on I just loved the game and didn’t look back really.”
Whilst growing up Melbourne played both basketball and Australian Rules football for several years. After making a Vic Country representative basketball team Melbourne decided to focus her energy on basketball which had always been her favourite sport to play. Melbourne went on to represent Vic Country at several national under-age championships.
Jade’s junior basketball club was the Traralgon Thunderbirds and her junior association was the Traralgon Amateur Basketball Association. In June 2021 Melbourne told the Latrobe Valley Express “From Under 10’s all the way through to Under 18s I have played for Traralgon, what I have got out of being a T-Bird I can’t thank everyone back there enough. The support, the help and the guidance they showed me paved the way for me to get where I am today.”
“Some of my best memories in Basketball were playing with the T-Birds so any time I get home I love going back there to shoot, see everyone I played with and help the juniors coming through as well.
“I think it is very important to recognise where I came from and help in whatever I can because I know a lot of the younger players look up to us older role models.”3
In a video Jade Melbourne has definitely earned a break published by Basketball Victoria Country on 26 August 2021 Melbourne commented “Playing basketball you sacrifice so much but I feel like being from the country you have to sacrifice that little bit more. Trainings can be anywhere from 45 minutes away to three hours so you are constantly on the road and I think that is the bond we have got at Country, everyone is so happy to be there and stuff, to see everyone doing so well and like there is a heap of kids coming in that 16 and 18 age-group that are special too, I am proud to be a Vic Country person. I fell in love with the Country Vic family especially at the under 12 jamboree, that event is so cool, getting to know people, getting to know the coaches, the system.”
At the Under 20 Australian Women’s National Championships in May 2021 Melbourne was a member of the Victorian team which combined the Metropolitan and Country regions. Jade’s Victorian teammates included Gemma Potter and Olivia Pollerd. Victoria won the silver medal, being defeated 63-76 by New South Wales in the final. At the 2021 Basketball Victoria Awards in late May Melbourne won the award for being Victoria’s 2020 Junior Female Basketball Athlete of the Year.
Playing basketball at senior level
During the 2017/18 Country Basketball League Melbourne represented Traralgon Thunderbirds senior women’s team at 15 years of age. In the Grand Final Melbourne scored 22 points against Moe in a 77-73 Traralgon T-birds victory.
Melbourne played 10 games for the Traralgon Thunderbirds and averaged 16.8 points per game during the 2017/18 Country Basketball League season. In five games Melbourne scored at least 21 points in a game, including 25 points in a game twice with the second occasion being a 76-58 semi final victory against the Maffra Eagles.
During the 2018 Big V season Melbourne played for Latrobe City Energy at senior level in Division 1. Against the Casey Cavaliers on 5 May Melbourne scored a game-high 31 points, made 10 of 14 field goals at an accuracy of 71%, made three of four three-pointers, took five rebounds, made three assists and three steals. Melbourne played 13 games for Latrobe City Energy and averaged 15.0 points per game.
For the 2018/19 season WNBL club the Melbourne Boomers signed Melbourne as a development player. On 1 June 2018 Melbourne told WNBL Media “I can’t wait to train at the highest level alongside some of the best players in the country. The Boomers have an awesome line-up and I can’t wait to be amongst it all. Both Guy (Molloy) and Justin (Nelson) have been so professional, they have stressed the importance of my schooling and went to great lengths to talk about how much support the Boomers provide to players studying.”4
Melbourne was one four Boomers development players in 2018/19 along with Olivia Pollerd, Isobel Anstey and Lara Edmanson with the quartet able to train alongside and learn from Boomers players including Jenna O’Hea, Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor, Steph Talbot, Maddie Garrick and Jaz Shelley. Melbourne didn’t play a WNBL game for the Boomers during the 2018/19 WNBL season but less than four years later has been Australian Opals teammates with Shelley at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup and has now joined Magbegor and Talbot on Seattle Storm’s WNBA roster.
Representing Australia at under-age level and attending the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence
At the 2017 FIBA Under 16 Women’s Asia Cup held in Bengaluru, India from 22 to 28 October Melbourne at 15 years of age played as a guard off the bench for Australia. During a 123-29 victory against Hong Kong Melbourne scored 16 points, made six of ten field goal attempts at an accuracy of 60%, took seven rebounds and made seven assists in 20 minutes game-time. Jade was the equal second highest scorer in the game, behind teammate Georgia Amoore with 17 points, six Sapphires scored at least 10 points.
During the 2017 FIBS Under 16 Women’s Asia Cup Australia won all six games, culminating in Australia defeating Japan in the final 61-60 to win the gold medal. Melbourne played the first five games of the tournament for the Sapphires but didn’t play in the final.
Melbourne was the youngest member of the Australian Sapphires team at the FIBA Under 17 World Cup held in Belarus during July 2018, the only other member of the 12 player team born in 2002 was Gemma Potter who is six months older than Melbourne.
At the 2018 FIBA Under 17 Women’s World Cup Melbourne only played four of Australia’s seven games. Australia won five of their first six games of the tournament with their only loss being to France 58-68 in a semi final. In the bronze medal game Melbourne scored four points and took four rebounds in 14 minutes court-time, making her only field goal attempt and two free-throws in Australia’s 57-51 victory against Hungary which secured the bronze medal.
In November 2018 the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence announced that Melbourne would be one of four women commencing a scholarship with the BA CoE in January 2019 with fellow Victorians Olivia Pollerd and Paige Price along with Millie Prior from New South Wales. This quartet joined a group of nine returning scholarship holders in 2019 which included Gemma Potter, Agnes Emma-Nnopu and Lily Scanlon.
Former WNBL and WNBA player Kristen Veal was the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence Women’s Program Head Coach. Veal commented “Two of the new athletes in Jade and Olivia were members of this year’s Sapphires campaign while Millie and Paige have been named in an exciting Under-15 team to compete at the FIBA Oceania Qualifiers in December in Papua New Guinea. With all incoming athletes having already had green and gold experience via either international tournaments or development camps, this promises to be a very exciting crop of elite level talent to develop over the coming years as they strive for further national representation.”5
Melbourne played for Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence during the 2019 NBL1 season. On 11 May Melbourne scored 19 points and took 10 rebounds in a road game against Knox at the State Basketball Centre. Against the Southern Sabres in a road game on 14 July 2019 Melbourne scored 29 points.
In 18 games for Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence during the 2019 NBL1 season Melbourne averaged 11.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
From 14-16 February 2020 Melbourne attended a Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp at Quest Multisport as part of the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. Melbourne was one of six Australian’s that participated in the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp, being joined by fellow Victorian Olivia Pollerd on the girls roster. The boys roster included a quartet from Canberra’s NBA Global Academy in Josh Giddey, Biwali Bayles, Blake Jones and Tamuri Wigness.
Melbourne told AusHoopers TV in April 2021 “The whole camp is wild, it is part of the (NBA) All-Star weekend as well so its like 30 international prospects and you just play in scrimmages, get to know each other, sponsored by Nike so you get some free gear. To go to the All-Star game as well was pretty wild, all the best players in the NBA were all there, dunk contest, all that, it was an awesome experience, yeah super fortunate for it. It was at the start of 2020, a week later they were like you have to home isolate (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) when you get back from international travel, so I was pretty lucky to get that trip in.”
The Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence women’s team joined the newly established Warratah 1 league for the 2020 season and were scheduled to play 24 games, however early in the 2020 Warratah 1 season the impacts of COVID-19 were beginning to be felt in Australia and all around the world. Members of the BA CoE men’s and women’s programs returned to be with their families and completed basketball training sessions and high school classes remotely. Several BA CoE scholarship holders including Melbourne were in Year 12.
After two months away BA CoE scholarship holders including Melbourne returned to Canberra in late-May 2020. Head Coach of the BA CoE Women’s program Veal told Australia.basketball “It was pretty dynamic, we had to change the schedule on a daily basis. We couldn’t get the girls into the AIS facilities when they first came back so we were training at Basketball ACT and the University of Canberra on the 3×3 courts and using the fields for outdoor gym and running.”
“Even that was an improvement from where they had been. They were into it… they were excited. They were like puppies being taken outside for a walk, they were so grateful to be able to have that level of access to each other and opportunity to be training again. They came back with really good perspective on what they had versus what others didn’t.”6
Whilst the BA CoE were unable to regularly play games in a league during 2020 they improvised including simulating training camp scenarios. Two of Melbourne’s future University of Capitals teammates – Olympian Marianna Tolo and Australian 3×3 team member Keeley Froling were involved in some CoE training sessions in the lead up to their 2020 WNBL season with the Capitals.
Veal told Australia.basketball “The opportunity to get the girls robust and strong due to the lack of competition meant that a player like Jade Melbourne was able to go into the WNBL Hub with the physical tools to handle a competition like that, at age 18. The greatest accomplishment and reward for the group’s hard work and persistence was all 13 athletes being named in the under 19 Gems squad for the 2021 World Cup campaign.”7
Melbourne started the 2021 Warratah 1 Women’s season for the BA CoE in scintillating fashion, shot the ball proficiently to make 17 of 21 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 81.0% to score a game-high 34 points, took eight rebounds, made a game-high nine assists and had a game-high nine steals in a victory against the Inner West Blues on 17 April.
During the 2021 Warratah 1 Women’s season Melbourne played six games for the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence and averaged 19.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 4.0 steals per game.
After being named in the Australian Gems squad for the 2021 Under 19 Women’s World Cup Melbourne told Latrobe Valley Express what representing Australia means to her, commenting “There really is no better feeling (then pulling on that national jersey), you have Australia across the front, your last name on the back and you are representing your family and the people that have helped you along the way.”
“To get that opportunity to go overseas and compete for your country there is nothing better, so every time I get the chance to wear the green and gold whether it be at training or in a big game it is very special.”8
At the 2021 FIBA Under 19 Women’s World Cup held in Hungary from 7-15 August Melbourne captained the Australian Gems. David Herbert was the Head Coach of the Gems and Kristen Veal was an assistant coach.
Melbourne was the second oldest player on the Gems team and was a starter in the backcourt throughout the tournament. During the Gems opening game Melbourne scored a game-high 19 points, made seven of 10 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 70%,made three of five three-pointers and had an equal game-high five assists in a 99-28 victory against Egypt.
In a 72-61 quarter final victory against Canada Melbourne scored 20 points, made seven of 14 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 50%, took a team-high nine rebounds, made four assists and two steals. Against Mali in a semi final Melbourne scored a game-high 19 points, took eight rebounds and made an equal game-high five assists in the 62-50 victory.
During the first six matches of the tournament the Gems had five wins and their only loss was during the group stage to USA 59-99. The Gems played the USA again in the Gold Medal game and were more competitive, trailing by eight points at half-time and were defeated by USA 52-70.
At the 2021 FIBA Under 19 Women’s World Cup Melbourne played all seven games for the Gems and averaged 12.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 29.6 minutes per game. Melbourne was recognised for her brilliant performances for the silver medal winning Gems by being named in the tournament’s All-Star five. Melbourne led the Australian Gems in scoring, assists and minutes played per game and ranked fourth for rebounds and equal fifth for steals.
During the 30 September 2021 episode of Women With Drive titled Rising Superstars Nyadiew Pouch and Jade Melbourne host and Deakin Melbourne Boomers forward Lou Brown asked “Jade, a huge congratulations, you made the FIBA (Under 19) World Cup All-Star five, what were your emotions like when they called your name?” Melbourne responded “Yeah it was pretty crazy, it’s something that I didn’t expect, like you don’t play for the individual accolades and the whole tournament I was just super focussed on the team so it didn’t even cross my mind really, I was just so driven by getting a medal, getting around my teammates and just playing the best basketball we could. We played a really selfless brand of basketball so I didn’t really think any of us were going to get it but yeah when they tapped me on the shoulder and said you’re getting presented with it I was really honoured to be named in that team and I look back at it and it’s a pretty cool achievement. Obviously I didn’t play for it but to get recognised in it is a pretty special feeling and something that I’ll cherish forever.”
Lou Brown asked “Right before you went to Hungary you graduated from the CoE, what’s something you learnt and have been able to take away from the CoE?” Melbourne replied “I learnt so much, like I was there for two and a half years. Like Vealy and Sarah taught me so much about the game. I have walked out a whole different player and person than I walked into the CoE in 2019. The biggest takeaways I guess would just be like the hard work I guess. At home you can tend to like slack off and stuff but learning that there’s like no days off really. You get out what you put in and then you just gotta maximise everything there, like you have access to so much and the opportunity only lasts for a little amount of time. Just learning, picking people’s brains every day, I just learned so much and can’t thank the Australian Institute of Sport(AIS) enough for having me there for two and a half years because the learning and growth I got as a basketball player was unbelievable.”
Debut WNBL season with the University of Canberra Capitals in 2020
Due to the impact of COVID-19 the 2020 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season had a very different structure to a typical WNBL season and imports weren’t eligible to play in the league. All eight WNBL clubs were located in North Queensland for the duration of the 2020 WNBL season which was played at three locations, Townsville, Cairns and Mackay. The regular season was condensed to five rounds commencing 11 November.
On 3 November 2021, just eight days before they played their opening game of the 2020 WNBL season the University of Canberra Capitals announced that they had completed their roster for the 2020 season by signing Jade Melbourne and Ashley Taia. Capitals head coach Paul Goriss commented “Jade is one of the best young prospects in Australia so I’m thrilled that we could have her join our group. She isn’t here to make up the numbers – she will certainly get opportunities.”
“For someone like Jade it’s all about energy every time she steps on the floor. We aren’t expecting her to score 20 points a game but I have no doubt she will play hard and contribute in many ways.”9
The University of Canberra Capitals won back to back WNBL Championships in 2018/2019 and 2019/2020. Four of the six players that averaged more than 7.5 points per game in 2019/20 returned to the Capitals in 2020 – co-captains Kelsey Griffin and Mariana Tolo along with point guard Maddison Rocci and forward Keely Froling. 2019/20 WNBL regular season Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kia Nurse and 2019/20 Grand Final MVP Olivia Epoupa were ineligible to return in 2020 due to being imports.
On joining the University of Canberra Capitals Melbourne told WNBL Media “I’m super excited to have the opportunity to play in the WNBL at such a young age. It will give me the experience I need looking forward to college and to have that opportunity with the current champions should speed up my development. Getting to learn in the environment that the Capitals provide, and to learn from leaders and veterans such as (Marianna) Tolo and Kelsey (Griffin) is amazing.”10
The University of Canberra Capitals weren’t at full strength at the start of the 2020 WNBL season with Griffen, Brittany Smart and Tahlia Tupaea all missing the season opener against Adelaide Lightning on 11 November at Mackay Multi Sports Stadium whilst centre Tolo played restricted minutes.
In her WNBL debut at 18 years of age for the University of Canberra Capitals against the Adelaide Lightning in the 2020 season opener Melbourne was part of the Capitals starting line-up with fellow guards Maddison Rocci and Abby Cubillo along with frontcourt players Mikaela Ruef and Keely Froling. On the rapid progression from being a late addition to the Capitals roster to starting in their opening game of the season Melbourne told Megan Hustwaite for a Life in the Hub article published on wnbl.basketball “I was in the starting group at training and started in a practice game against Sydney. Goz (coach Paul Goriss) called me into his room and told me he was going to start me against Adelaide and I was like ‘oh!’.
“It was crazy and a cool feeling. To hear that I’d be starting in my first WNBL game I was nervous, excited all in one. I’m just loving it.”11
Whilst Melbourne didn’t score in 10 and a half minutes court-time against Adelaide on debut it didn’t take long for her to demonstrate an ability to make a scoreboard impact at WNBL level, reaching double figures in points in each of her next three games.
Jade made her first field goal in the WNBL during her second game against Townsville Fire at Mackay Multi Sports Stadium on 15 November and was rarely off the court. Melbourne finished the Capitals 78-67 victory with 12 points and five rebounds in a game-high 38 minutes and 28 seconds on court.
Against the Bendigo Spirit in a Capitals 76-56 victory at Mackay Multi Sports Stadium in Round 2 on 16 November Melbourne scored a team-high 14 points, made four of seven field goal attempts at an accuracy of 57%, made all five free-throws, took two rebounds and made two assists.
In Round 2 on 18 November at Mackay Multi Sports Stadium against the Deakin Melbourne Boomers Melbourne scored a game-high 20 points – nine points more than the second ranked player for the game, team-mate Maddison Rocci who scored 11 points. Melbourne made nine of 13 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 69%, took two rebounds, made three assists and two steals in the Capitals 67-50 victory. Melbourne was one of five players selected in the WNBL’s Team of the Week for Round 2.
During a University of Canberra Capitals 95-72 victory against the Southside Flyers at Cairns Pop-Up Arena on 23 November Melbourne’s wide ranging skill-set was on fully display, scoring more than 10 points and having more than five rebounds and five assists to rank in the top three for the Capitals in all three categories. Melbourne scored 14 points, shooting at 50% from the field, took six rebounds and made an equal game-high six assists.
During the Life in the Hub with Jade Melbourne article published by WNBL Media on 26 November 2020 Goriss commented on Melbourne “Being in Canberra I get to see those (CoE) girls, pop in and have a look. Jade’s improved greatly in the past 12 months.’’
“I was taken back by how much she’s improved physically, her game, skill wise and when the opportunity came up for us to have a development spot I worked with (CoE coach and Caps assistant coach) Kristen Veal, Basketball Australia and the CoE to see if we could get her on a contract before she goes to college and what that would look like around finishing year 12.”
“Jade’s an exciting player, I think she’s a future Opal. She has the skill level, the game, toughness – she’s just fearless. She has all the attributes of being an international player.”12
Against the Perth Lynx on 26 November at Cairns Pop-Up Arena Melbourne had only scored two points with one minute remaining in the game but made two critical plays in the last 60 seconds. With the Capitals trailing Perth 67 to 70 Melbourne got on offensive rebound with 57 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Fellow Capitals guard Tahlia Tupaea made a three pointer to tie the scores at 70 apiece with 47 seconds to play. Later in the final minute Tupaea drove into the key, drew the defense to her and passed to Melbourne in the corner who with composure made a three-pointer to put the Capitals in front by that margin with seven seconds to play with what ended up being the final score of the game, extending the Capitals winning streak to six games.
The Capitals only won two of their final five regular season games which cost them a double chance, finishing the regular season with the same 9-4 win-loss record as the Melbourne Boomers and Townsville Fire and were two games behind the Southside Flyers who were the minor premiers with a record of 11 wins and two losses. In the head to head matches amongst the three tied teams Townsville had the best record which resulted in them finishing second and the University of Canberra Capitals meeting the Melbourne Boomers in a knock-out semi final. At Townsville Stadium the Boomers defeated the Capitals 78-68 in a semi final which ended the Capitals season.
In her debut WNBL season Melbourne played 14 games for the University of Canberra Capitals and averaged 8.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. During the 2020 regular season Melbourne ranked fourth at the Capitals for assists and minutes played per game and ranked fifth in scoring.
Reflecting on playing her debut WNBL season in a hub Melbourne told the WNBL Fast Break Series in November 2021 “Yeah, it was crazy, just seven weeks you were with each other every day, I loved it, just learning from the girls, like I didn’t even think I was going to have the WNBL opportunity last year and then next minute with a month out I was playing and then a month later I was on the plane. Like it all just happened so quickly and the girls were just awesome, we just embraced one another so you got really tight and you built really great connections and relationships with your teammates.”
Representing the Australian Opals
On 20 August 2021 Melbourne was selected in an Australian Senior Women’s basketball 21 player squad for the FIBA 2021 Women’s Asia Cup in Jordan from 27 September to 3 October. Melbourne missed out on selection in the 12 player Opals team but was named an emergency. Two players Bec Allen and Maddison Rocci withdrew from the Opals team which resulted in both emergency players Melbourne and Abigail Wehrung receiving late call-ups into the final 12 player team for the 2021 Women’s Asia Cup.
At 19 years of age Jade was the youngest member of the Australian Opals team at the Asia Cup with the next youngest member being 21 year-old guard and fellow Country Victorian Jaz Shelley. Nine members of the team made their Australian Opals debut at the tournament. With Australian Opals Head Coach Sandy Brondello unavailable for the tournament due to commitments in the WNBA with Phoenix Mercury, Opals Assistant Coach Paul Goriss took over as the Head Coach for the Asia Cup.
Melbourne made her senior Australian debut in the Opals opening game of the tournament against Chinese Taipei and made one free-throw in two minutes court-time. During the Opals 88-58 victory in the bronze medal game against Korea Melbourne scored six points, making both three-point attempts to have a field goal accuracy of 100% in nine minutes court-time. At the FIBA 2021 Women’s Asia Cup Jade played all six games for the bronze medal winning Opals, shot the ball at 46.2% from the field and averaged 3.2 points and 7.9 minutes court-time per game.
On the experience of playing with the Australian Opals at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Melbourne told the WNBL Fast Break Series “I learned so much from that small opportunity and something that will help me to continue to grow my game and I am just looking forward now to playing them all in the WNBL season. A lot of the time it was just kind of stay in the moment, be yourself and then just work as a team. I think that kind of reflected what we did, we played a really selfless brand of basketball and I think that’s how Australia like to play and I think just that, being a great teammate is a real key message that was kind of brought across the whole time especially with limited preparation, so that is definitely a little wisdom that I’d take, just be a great teammate.”
Melbourne was named in a 16 player Australian Opals squad for a training camp in Sydney from 30 January to 4 February in the lead up to FIBA 2022 World Cup Qualifying Tournament held in Belgrade, Serbia from 10 February to 13 February. In the post-game interview on Fox Sports after the Capitals 94-60 win against Bendigo Spirit on 23 January 2022 Melbourne commented “Yeah I am super-stoked, when I got named in the 16 I was super excited, playing for the Opals is my childhood dream so to be that one step closer you know to going away to a qualifying tournament would be super special. For the camp I am just super-excited, every opportunity I get to learn from older players that have done it before and be in that environment, I just can’t wait for next week to get into it.” Melbourne missed out on selection in the Opals 12 player team for the FIBA 2022 World Cup Qualifying Tournament but attending the training camp in Sydney alongside experienced Opals was a positive experience.
Sydney will host the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup for five on five basketball from 23 September to 3 October with 12 teams competing in the tournament. It will be the second time that Australia has hosted a FIBA Women’s World Cup with Sydney also having been the host city in 1994 where Australia narrowly missed out on winning its first ever World Cup medal, finishing fourth after being defeated by China 65-66 in a semi final and lost the bronze medal game to the United States of America 95-100. The Opals broke through to win a bronze medal at the 1998 World Cup and have won a medal at five out of six World Cups from 1998 to 2018 including a gold medal at Rio in 2006.
Yesterday, 14 April 2022 Melbourne was selected in an Australian Opals extended 21 player squad for a three-game series against Japan to be played in Sydney in late May. Japan won the silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and with a smaller line-up, speed and three-point shooting ability have a very good record against the Opals during tournament play in the past five years. In all three FIBA Women’s Asia Cups that the Opals have competed in Japan have won the gold medal. Australia won the silver medal in 2017 and the bronze medal in 2019 and 2021. The first two games of the Australia vs Japan series will be played at Quaycentre on 27 and 29 May and game 3 will be played at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on 31 May.
2021/22 WNBL season with the University of Canberra Capitals
In August 2020, before making her WNBL debut with the University of Canberra Capitals during the 2020 season Melbourne committed to going to college in the United States of America at Arizona State University.
After the experience of playing in the WNBL during 2020 Melbourne decided to remain in Australia and signed with the Capitals for the 2021/22 WNBL season. Capitals Head Coach Goriss commented “We are extremely excited to have Jade back playing for the UC Capitals. She was one of the fairy-tale stories of WNBL 2020 with her skill, her speed and her play at both ends. She energised the team both on and off the court with her intensity and her passion for basketball. She plays with no fear whatsoever.”13
During the 30 September 2021 episode of Women With Drive Lou Brown asked “Jade, you were committed to Arizona State University but opted out after and have now signed with the Canberra Capitals again for the upcoming WNBL season, what led to this decision?” Melbourne responded “It wasn’t an easy decision. After the hub last year Goz kind of said ‘Look we’d love to have you back’, so I was like yeah, this is actually a legitimate option now. Going into the hub I was like I’ll play this and then I’ll prepare for six months and then I’ll go to college but after the WNBL hub like I absolutely loved it and the growth and learning that I was able to get out of that, just a short six week season. I thought OK this might be a legitimate option for me so I was tossing and turning, there was some sleep loss between January to May. Finally in May I just spoke to a heap of people that were close with me and that I trusted and then I came to the decision that it’s nothing against the college program and stuff like that but I think for me personally I’ll get more development and more growth in my game out of the WNBL rather than going over to the college system. That’s why I decided to stay here, playing against veterans every day, training against people and learning off them like just doing film, indies, gym, I just think it’s going to be a better long-term thing for me so that’s why I decided to sign on with Canberra again and I’m looking forward to the WNBL season now.”
During Season 2, Episode 5 of AusHoopers TV on 8 April 2021 Melbourne was asked “Is there one part of your game that you think needs improving or that you are looking to work on?” Melbourne responded “Yes, at the moment I have been working on the consistency in my three-point jump-shot, I mean that always need improving, I have always got to the rim so if I can add that to my game it would be pretty nice. Also just working on two tempos of my game, I like to play at one pace, I like to play really fast, so just knowing when to pull it out, when we don’t have momentum get the best shot kind of thing. Playing with two paces, hesi’s and stuff like that, just playing around with that at the moment.”
From the Capitals nine player core rotation that averaged more than 14.0 minutes per game in 2020 six players returned in 2021/22. Melbourne was joined in this category by Kelsey Griffin, Tahlia Tupaea, Mikaela Ruef, Brittany Smart and Abby Cubillo. The trio of Capitals that averaged more than 14.0 minutes per game and didn’t return to the Capitals in 2021/22 were Mariana Tolo who was playing in Europe, along with Maddison Rocci and Keely Froling who joined rival WNBL teams the Southside Flyers and Sydney Uni Flames respectively.
Four recruits were part of the Capitals core rotation in 2021/22, two former Capitals in WNBL games record holder Kelly Wilson and Alex Bunton who was a member of the Australian Opals silver medal winning team at the 2018 World Cup. The Capitals also recruited American import guard Brittney Sykes and forward Alicia Froling.
In the WNBL Fast Break Series Melbourne commented in November 2021 on the 2021/22 WNBL season starting in December “I’m just excited to play, this year it’s a full season, we’re going to be on the road, we’re going to be playing in front of our awesome Caps fans, they missed it last year so I know they’re all super excited to get back to cheering on the Caps, they do a great job and they’re always super loud so I’m super excited to have that home court experience and then just play a normal WNBL season, I don’t know what that looks like yet, just playing in a hub but yeah, I’m super excited and I know the rest of the team is so we’re just all eager to get back out on the court and just give it our best shot.”
After scoring eight points in the Capitals opening game of the 2021/22 WNBL season against the Sydney UnI Flames Melbourne scored more than 10 points in the Capitals next two games. Against Adelaide Lightning on 19 December Melbourne scored a game-high 18 points and made three of seven three-pointers at an accuracy of 42.9%. In the Capitals third game of the season Melbourne scored 13 points, made five of eight field goal attempts at an accuracy of 62.5% and took four rebounds in Canberra’s 100-88 victory over Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre on 22 December.
During the 30 September 2021 episode of Women With Drive host Lou Brown asked “This upcoming season there’s a game potentially, hopefully scheduled to be played in Traralgon for you against the Melbourne Boomers. What would that mean to you to be able to play back home?” Jade replied “It would be unbelievable really, Traralgon basketball have supported me and given me so much help throughout my basketball journey. They’ve just built a new stadium too recently that I haven’t had the opportunity to play a game on so I would love to go home and play in front of all my friends, family, people I went to school with and kind of showcase how much they have helped me and then playing a professional game in my hometown, that would just be super cool and something I’m really excited for if it is to go ahead.”
Due to health and safety protocols regarding COVID-19 the WNBL game between the Melbourne Boomers and University of Canberra Capitals scheduled at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS) in Traralgon on 8 January 2022 had to be postponed. A game was unable to be re-scheduled at GRISS between the Boomers and Capitals, however in a 6 February WNBL game at GRISS the Perth Lynx defeated the Boomers 76-71 in overtime. Hopefully Jade will have the opportunity to play in a WNBL game at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium in the future.
Throughout the 2021/22 WNBL season Milestones and Misses published several articles celebrating WNBL players achieving milestones including an article celebrating Melbourne’s University of Canberra Capitals teammate and fellow Gippsland product Kelly Wilson becoming the first player in league history to reach 400 games. Below is a link to the Wilson 400 game article, the WNBL category and the Milestones and Misses homepage.
Against Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre on 23 January Melbourne scored 19 points, made six of eight field goal attempts at an accuracy of 75%, made two of three shots from behind the arc and five of six free-throws in a superb shooting performance. Melbourne also took five rebounds, made two assists, one steal and blocked one shot in 20 minutes and 26 seconds court-time during the Capitals 94-60 victory at home.
In the post-game interview on Fox Sports after the Capitals victory against the Spirit Melbourne commented “We had a real defensive focus today and knew that’s what we had to do, and just credit to the team, we bounced back, obviously we had a game cancelled Friday, we got in here on Saturday wo got through all the scouts, credit to the group we bounced back and it was good to have a good win.”
Melbourne scored 20 points, made eight of 16 field goal attempts to shoot at 50 % from the field, took five rebounds and made two steals in the Capitals 96-80 road victory against the Perth Lynx at the Bendat Basketball Centre on 12 March.
The University of Canberra Capitals had 11 wins and six losses during the 2021/22 WNBL regular season to finish third behind the Melbourne Boomers (12 wins and five losses) and Perth Lynx (11 wins and five losses), and ahead of the fourth placed Adelaide Lightning (10 wins and seven losses).
In game 1 of their semi final series the University of Canberra Capitals were defeated on the road by the Perth Lynx 77-91 at the Bendat Basketball Centre on Wednesday 24 March.
For game 2 of the semi final series the Capitals were scheduled to host the Perth Lynx on Sunday 27 March however earlier that day it was announced that the game had been postponed due to several Capitals players testing positive for COVID.
An article published by the University of Canberra Capitals on 27 March said:
“The UC Capitals have a number of team members who have tested positive to COVID, and others who are symptomatic and awaiting results. Under ACT Government COVID Guidelines, these athletes are not able to leave isolation until a negative PCR result is received.
This therefore means that the team are not able to field the required number of athletes per the WNBL COVID Finals Protocols – that being seven (7) – to take the court today.
Per the WNBL COVID Protocols, the priority of any Finals series is to play it as a best of three. However should that not be possible it can be played as a best of two, with the winner determined by points spread, or as a single game.
WNBL 21-22 is currently scheduled to be finished by Easter, a date agreed by league and Clubs (based on a number of factors, including WNBA athletes needing to be released at this time).
Given that, the Semi Final series between the UC Capitals and the Perth Lynx will be reduced to a two-game series, the details of game two to be announced in the coming days.”14
Two days later on Tuesday 29 March the University of Canberra Capitals released a statement which said:
“The UC Capitals have been forced to make the difficult decision to not play in Game 2 of the Semi-Final Series, which the WNBL determined would be rescheduled to Wednesday, 6 April in Perth.
The UC Capitals now currently have eight COVID-positive players and the full squad is in isolation.
Following consultation with medical staff, the club was not prepared to risk the health and welfare of the team by committing to a long-haul flight early next week just as the affected athletes end their isolation period. The chance that some may still be suffering symptoms, thereby not receiving medical clearance to play, or simply requiring more time to return to match fitness posed too much of a risk.
The UC Capitals are incredibly disappointed with the outcome and lack of opportunity to participate. The club simply could not consider playing as the decision to move the game to Perth made our participation unreasonable.
The UC Capitals athletes, who’ve already endured incredible adversity throughout the season, are devastated by the outcome. The team were desperate for the chance to compete and with UC Capitals management, every possible solution was explored.”15
Melbourne played 16 of a possible 18 games for the University of Canberra Capitals in 2021/22 and averaged 9.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 20.9 minutes court-time per game. At the Capitals Melbourne ranked fifth for scoring, steals and minutes per game, sixth for assists and seventh for rebounds. Melbourne started all 16 games on the bench and played at least 18 minutes court-time in 13 games.
At the UC Capitals 2021/22 MVP Awards night Melbourne won the Capital on the Rise Award for the second season in a row. Capitals head coach Goriss commented “Jade is growing in stature and maturity each season. She has the X factor – she is fast, she has no fear, she is improving her defense on the ball and with continued work on her shooting she is on the way to be a future star of the Caps and WNBL. She still has a way to go but with her work ethic and willingness to learn and work in her game and in the gym she is on the right path to be something special. I can’t wait to see her improvement again next year in the WNBL.”16
Melbourne polled 16 votes in the WNBL’s 2021/22 Betty Watson Youth Player of the Year Award to finish in third place behind Melbourne Boomers forward/centre Ezi Magbegor on 35 votes and Sydney Uni Flames point guard Shyla Heal on 17 votes.
In the WNBL’s sixth woman of the year award Melbourne also finished third with 12 votes behind Southside Flyers guard Kristy Wallace on 22 votes and Perth Lynx forward Alex Ciabattoni on 14 votes.
Upcoming 2022 NBL1 South season
In January 2022 the Ballarat Miners announced that Melbourne had signed with the club for the 2022 NBL1 South Season. The Miners Head Coach is David Herbert who was the Head Coach of the Australian Gems team that won a silver medal at the 2021 FIBA Under 19 World Cup with Melbourne as the team captain. Herbert coached the Melbourne Tigers women during the 2021 NBL1 South season.
Herbert commented on Melbourne joining the Ballarat Miners “Jade is an exciting addition to the Ballarat Miners NBL1 South women’s program this year. At such a young age she shows maturity above and beyond her years and will be a fantastic role model for young players in the Ballarat region. Jade has the world at her feet right now and was heavily recruited throughout the country to play NBL1, we are so lucky to gain her services for the upcoming season.”17
On joining the Ballarat Miners Melbourne told NBL1.com.au “I’m a Vic Country girl and the idea of teaming up with Herbie and staying within the country set up and joining the Miners family is something I couldn’t say no to. I’m such a competitive person, I can’t wait for us to build a great team and push for an NBL1 South Championship.”18
Being selected by Seattle Storm at the 2022 WNBA Draft
The 2022 WNBA Draft was held on 11 April in Spring Studios, New York City. Seattle Storm selected Melbourne in the third round with pick 33 overall. Melbourne was watching the WNBA Draft with family and friends in the country Victorian region of Gippsland and told heraldsun.com.au “They don’t announce the third round on TV so all of a sudden we saw my name appear on the screen and we all screamed and celebrated. I’ve had two goals ever since I was little and they were to play for the Opals and be drafted to the WNBA. It’s just the beginning, but I guess I’ve done alright.”19
Melbourne becomes the third Australian on Seattle Storm’s roster, joining Ezi Magbegor and Steph Talbot. Magbegor and Talbot were members of the Australian Opals silver medal winning team at the 2018 World Cup in Spain and represented the Opals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Melbourne played for the Australian Opals at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup however that team didn’t include any players from the Tokyo Olympic Games team.
Talbot, Magbegor and Melbourne all attended an Australian Opals training camp in Sydney from 30 January to 4 February 2022. The trio have previous experience training together as they were all on the Melbourne Boomers roster for the 2018/19 WNBL season however Melbourne was a development player who didn’t play a game whilst Talbot was a starter and Magbegor was a member of the core rotation.
Steph Talbot played her 150th WNBL game on 30 December 2021 and finished runner-up in the 2021/22 Suzy Batkovic Medal for league MVP after winning the award in 2020. Talbot and Magbegor were both selected in the 2021/22 All-WNBL First team.
Below are links to articles published on Milestones and Misses celebrating Talbot’s 150th WNBL game and Magbegor being selected in the Opals 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games team.
Six Australian players have won at least one WNBA Championship with Seattle, players in this category are Lauren Jackson (2004 & 2010 championships), Tully Bevilaqua (2004), Alison Lacey (2010), Abby Bishop (2010), Sami Whitcomb (2018 & 2020) and Ezi Magbegor (2020). In three of Seattle’s four WNBA Championships at least two Australians have been on their team with 2018 being the exception.
Two Australian’s were selected in the third round of the 2022 WNBA Draft. At pick 27 Los Angeles Sparks selected small forward Amy Atwell who grew up in Perth, Western Australia. Atwell was named the 2021/22 Big West Conference Player of the Year and became just the second player from the University of Hawaii to be selected in a WNBA Draft. During the 2021/22 College season Atwell averaged 17.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for the University of Hawaii. Atwell is the second Australian on the LA Sparks roster, joining centre Liz Cambage.
Melbourne was the fourth player Seattle selected at the 2022 WNBA draft, with the Storm’s previous picks being centre Elissa Cunane with pick 17, Lorela Cubaj at pick 18 and guard Evina Westbrook with pick 21. Seattle traded Cubaj to New York for a 2023 second round draft pick. The addition of the three draftees increased the number of players on Seattle’s roster to 16.
Seattle Storm General Manager Talisa Rhea commented “We are excited about players we added in this draft. The combination of bringing talent to Seattle, as well as moves to support our future, felt like a win for the organization tonight.”20
Several of the players from Seattle’s 2018 and 2020 WNBA Championship winning teams have signed with the club for the 2022 WNBA season, most notably the WNBA’s 2018 regular season and finals MVP Award winner Breanna Stewart, the WNBA’s all-time leader for career assists Sue Bird, 2021 All-WNBA first team member Jewell Loyd and starting centre Mercedes Russell.
Highlighting both Sue Bird’s longevity and how young Melbourne is the final game of Bird’s rookie WNBA season in 2002 was the day before Melbourne was born on 18 August 2002. Another veteran point guard Briann January is playing her final WNBA season with Seattle in 2022. With January’s retirement and Bird possibly playing her last WNBA season in 2022 there will be greater opportunity for a young point guard such as Melbourne to make Seattle’s WNBA roster in 2023.
Given how difficult it is to make a WNBA roster with only 144 spots available comprised of 12 players at 12 teams, the higher percentage play for Melbourne was to hesitate as she has and defer joining Seattle for a year.
Days after being selected by Seattle at the 2022 WNBA Draft Melbourne was named in the Australian Opals squad for a three game series against Japan in late-May. On 14 April Melbourne told media “The last 48 hours have been crazy. I’ve just been trying to just soak it all in, it’s always been two massive goals of mine to get drafted to the WNBA and be part of the Opals squad and play for them so to have that both announced in the same week, I couldn’t be happier, I’m on cloud nine.”
Melbourne will play for the Ballarat Miners during the 2022 NBL1 season and also attend camps as a member of the Australian Opals squad which maximises her chances of making the Opals team for the 2022 World Cup in Sydney from 23 September to 3 October. The Ballarat Miners play their home games at Selkirk Stadium, a venue Melbourne played a WNBL game for the Capitals against Perth on 19 January 2012. On 14 April Melbourne told wnbl.basketball “I’m still young, I’m still learning so much along the way, so any chance I get to go to a camp I just embrace it and soak it up like a sponge and if I can get my name on that final roster to go to the World Cup and to have it in our own back yard, it would really be a dream come true.”21
Melbourne shooting a free-throw for the University of Canberra Capitals against the Perth Lynx in a WNBL game at Selkirk Stadium on 19 January 2022.
From getting a basketball hoop at five years of age and shooting hoops in her backyard in Traralgon, Country Victoria it has been quite the journey for Jade Melbourne who starred at junior level playing for the Traralgon Thunderbirds and Country Victoria representative teams.
Less than 18 months ago in mid-October 2020 Melbourne hadn’t played a WNBL game. On WNBL debut in November 2020 Melbourne instantly became a member of the Capitals core rotation and a fan favourite with her enthusiasm and high-energy play. During the 2021/22 WNBL season Melbourne finished third in two league awards – the Sixth Woman Betty Watson Youth Player of the Year Award.
Melbourne has also made an impact at international level captaining the silver medal winning Australian Gems at the 2021 FIBA Under 19 Women’s World Cup and was named in the tournaments All-Star Five in August. Less than two months later Melbourne impressed in her senior national debut for the Australian Opals at the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.
It is a magnificent achievement by Jade Melbourne to progress from playing brilliant basketball for junior representative teams to flourish with opportunities at senior level including in the WNBL with the University of Canberra Capitals and achieve two major goals of representing the Australian Opals and being selected in the WNBA Draft by Seattle Storm at just 19 years of age.
Article and photographs by Dean Andrews
Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777
Milestones and Misses
Milestones and Misses publishes articles to celebrate the achievements of sportspeople, mainly in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) and Australian Rules Football (AFL and AFLW). In sport as with life in general it is common that milestones are only achieved after overcoming adversity, so whilst the articles on the Milestones and Misses website celebrate sportspeople achieving milestones they also cover the misses along the journey such as a player having minimal game-time or spending a prolonged period on the sidelines due to injury. The aim of the articles is to enable readers to gain a greater appreciation of the journey sportspeople have had during their career.
A link to Milestones and Misses homepage is below:
The Milestones and Misses website was set up in December 2015. From 2020 onwards articles have been published on the following sportspeople:
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