Flames add WNBA gun to roster

WITH the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) offseason in full swing, the Sydney Uni Flames have added some international talent ahead of their upcoming 2022/23 campaign.

The Flames have signed WNBA rising star Jocelyn Willoughby, who has broken out in the US-based league of late, and is set to boost the side’s list in a big way as they look to bounce back from a disappointing campaign last year.

Willoughby has been an excellent contributor for the New York Liberty over in the United States, proving to be a valuable contributor on arguably the biggest stage in women’s basketball.

The 24-year-old will add some serious wing depth to the Flames’ roster for the upcoming season, and will likely provide some potent offence too, given how well she has performed in this area in the past.

Willoughby had a successful career at collegiate level, averaging 19.2 points per game as a senior at Virginia, which then led to a selection at 10th in the 2020 WNBA draft.

Upon joining the Liberty, she has found her feet at WNBA level, with averages of 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds from 17 games (which includes five starts).

She should continue to flourish and develop her game at WNBL level, as many international talents have done in the past.

Upon the announcment of the signing, Willoughby spoke of her excitement to head down under and join the growing league and particularly the Flames.

“I’ve always heard great things about the WNBL … namely that it’s a highly competitive league, a great place to develop between WNBA seasons, and that Australia is a great place to live,” the 24-year-old said from the US this week. 

“I’m excited to experience it for myself.  

“Another appealing aspect is the high level of support that I understand the team’s front office has invested in the Flames. I believe this is important for success and I am up for the challenge of building a championship-calibre team with young talent.” 

She also described some of the factors she is hoping to bring to the Flames, as Sydney looks to rise up the rankings again after managing just four wins last season.

“I take great pride in stopping my opponents and believe that my defensive aggressiveness will be a strength and asset for the Flames,” she said. 

“Offensively, I am a big guard with a physical presence. My size and versatility will be a strength, as I am good at getting downhill to score and/or create for others.  I am also very confident in stretching the floor and shooting the three.” 

Flames coach Shane Heal echoed these sentiments, and displayed how ecstatic the side was to add a player of her calibre.

“She is an incredible talent and dominated the college scene,” he said. 

“Jocelyn brings a great all-round game and her athleticism will fit our style of play in both offence and defence.  

“Her ability to hit the three in the WNBA has been elite. She will be really good fit between our small guards and mobile bigs.  

“I think Jocelyn is ready to show she is one of the best imports in the WNBL after knocking back European offers to play in Sydney. Flames fans will be excited when they see her hit the court.” 

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