By Jessica Robinson.
Selected in the third round of the WNBA draft with pick 33 by Seattle Storm, emerging Australian talent, Jade Melbourne’s head was spinning when she saw her name pop up across her TV.
Surrounded by family and close friends, Melbourne started to lose hope as she watched the first 30 picks go by, however, the feeling of doubt was quickly replaced with celebrations.
“I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not, but I saw a four-letter name and I recognised the Melbourne last name, I tapped my friend on the shoulder and said “that’s me,” I was just smiling for the next 10 minutes, it was a crazy feeling that I was actually picked up,” Melbourne told BA Media.
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However, Melbourne was well prepared and went into the draft night with a plan. Having had open conversations with the Storm prior to the draft, Melbourne was transparent with her preference to remain in Australia for another 12 months, a decision she received full support of.
“About a month out from the draft I made the decision with my agent and a small circle of people that I wasn’t going to go over immediately, and Seattle was really happy with the decision, it was an ideal situation.
“I think for me personally, I want to go over there giving training camp a red-hot crack, obviously I’m only 19 and a lot of the girls over there who are coming out of college are 22-24, so doing another year here in the NBL1 and WNBL, I’ll gain a lot. My game is still developing and I want to add to my strengths as well, give myself a proper offseason so hopefully when I go there next year I’ll be in good shape and hopefully secure a roster spot.
“It gives me another 12 months to work on my game and I’ll head over there in a year’s time, I couldn’t be happier.”
Whether it was now or in a year’s time, getting drafted to the team that she grew up watching will be a moment that she’ll never forget. Melbourne couldn’t believe the overwhelming response from the basketball community, including messages from current Seattle Storm Australians and Opals teammates, Steph Talbot and Ezi Magbegor.
“Australia has a history with Seattle, obviously Lauren Jackson was one of the best to ever play there, and with Steph Talbot and Ezi there at the moment, they both reached out to me within an hour of me getting drafted saying that they’re excited which was really cool.
“I grew up following Seattle, Sue Bird is one of my favourite players ever so to be picked up by them, I couldn’t be happier with the position I’ve landed in.”
It would be easy to forget that Melbourne is only 19-years-old, with the Regional Victorian already achieving so much in her short career. From podium finishes at Junior Championships throughout her teenage years to an Australian Opals debut, an U19 Gems’ silver medal captain and FIBA All-Star 5, two seasons within the WNBL and now a WNBA selection, Melbourne’s quickly ticking off career goals.
Coming off her second season with the UC Capitals in the WNBL, Melbourne’s relocation back to Regional Victoria has her currently playing with the Ballarat Miners in the NBL1, where she’s keen to further develop her game, adding to a strong offseason schedule.
“I love it here in Ballarat, I’m living with Zitina (Aokuso), we have a great team and I’m just starting to jell with the girls but everyone has made me feel welcome and I’ve settled in so quickly.”