Emotional Puoch heads Aussie trio's WNBA draft success

Nyadiew Puoch and Isobel Borlase's friendship will continue as WNBA teammates while Jaz Shelley will link with league great Diana Taurasi after the Australia trio's names were called in a high-profile draft.

Puoch and Borlase, both 19, were taken with picks 12 and 20 respectively by Atlanta while college graduate and former WNBL rookie of the year Shelley went to Phoenix with the 29th pick.

Caitlin Clark earned the No.1 pick, with the Indiana Fever selecting the former Iowa star on the back of a record-breaking college career that culminated in 18.9 million viewers tuning in to her national championship decider. 

Caitlin
Caitlin Clark was the much-hyped No.1 draft pick.

Puoch and Borlase will be two of the youngest players in the league but boast two seasons of WNBL experience.

Puoch won a championship with Lauren Jackson at the Southside Flyers earlier this year, while Borlase stepped up for a battling Adelaide.

Both are Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence products who played together in two under-19 World Cups.

Currently dominating for NBL1 outfit Dandenong, Puoch looms as a draft-and-stash option for the Dream.

Born in Tasmania, the teenager is one of seven children of South Sudanese immigrant and single mother Nyakong, who was in New York with her daughter for the announcement.

"It's huge; we are a big family, we love basketball and my mum, she's done so much for us," a teary Puoch said moments after her name was called. 

"Oh my god; she's so strong, a great mum. Through the thick and thin she's looked after us and here she is travelling to New York watching me do this."

Guard Borlase helped the Opals qualify for the Olympics and has been named in the side's extended squad for Paris. 

While still in the mix to play in Paris, her WNBA nod is set to rule her out of much of the squad's selection camp and lead-up games.

Shelley, 23, won the WNBL's 2018-19 rookie of the year award with the Melbourne Boomers before heading to college.

The guard first played at the University of Oregon before spending the last three years at the University of Nebraska.

She'll link with three-time WNBA champion and all-time great Taurasi, who has warned college superstar Clark that "reality is coming".

The confident, outspoken Clark has wowed with her signature logo shots and passing ability.

"There’s levels to this thing," Taurasi told ESPN earlier this month.

"You look superhuman playing 18-year-olds, but you’re going to come with some grown women who’ve been playing professional basketball for a long time." 

The Los Angeles Sparks chose Stanford's Cameron Brink at No.2 while the Chicago Sky had the third pick and went for South Carolina's Kamilla Cardoso.

Opals Olympics squad member Georgia Amoore was eligible for this year's draft but opted to defer and instead transfer from Virginia Tech to Kentucky.

The draft was held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in front of 1000 fans, who bought all the tickets within 15 minutes of them going on sale a few months ago.

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