Home » Aussie ‘best friends’ get drafted to same WNBA team as superstar Caitlin Clark enters pro league

Aussie ‘best friends’ get drafted to same WNBA team as superstar Caitlin Clark enters pro league

Australian Nyadiew Puoch has been taken 12th in the WNBA draft, linking up with long-time friend Izzy Borlase at the Atlanta Dream.

Borlase was selected 20th overall, in the second round, eight after Puoch and 19 after college hoops superstar Caitlin Clark was confirmed as the number one pick by the Indiana Fever.

The Fever taking Clark had been a foregone conclusion since she announced in February she would turn pro, with nearly 17,000 tickets claimed to watch the draft at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home to the Fever and the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

“I dreamed of this moment since I was in second grade, and it’s taken a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, but more than anything, just trying to soak it in,” Clark said.

Australian 29th pick Jaz Shelley (left) faced superstar Caitlin Clark (right) multiple times at college level.(Getty Images: Adam Bettcher)

She joins a Fever team boasting last year’s top pick, Aaliyah Boston, and hoping the pairing of the 2023 rookie of the year with the greatest scorer in college basketball history can end a seven-season streak without a play-off berth.

Meanwhile, power forward Puoch and point guard Borlase join a Dream team that ended its own four-year drought last season on the back of 2022 number one pick Rhyne Howard.

Puoch was celebrating her own selection when she was told she was going to be playing with her friend and compatriot. 

“Are you serious, oh my god, that’s amazing,” ESPN reporter Kane Pitman said she told him.

“Me and Izzy are like best friends.”

Borlase and Puoch have been linked through most of their basketball journeys, developing at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence, playing together at the 2021 and 2023 Under-19 World Cups.

They were separated in Australia’s WNBL, with Borlase playing for the struggling Adelaide Lightning, while Puoch reached successive finals with the Southside Flyers, winning this year’s title.

Isobel Borlase of Adelaide Lightning defends Nyadiew Puoch of Southside Flyers in the WNBL.

Nyadiew Puoch (left) and Isobel Borlase (right) played in the WNBL for the Flyers and Lightning respectively.(Getty Images: Kelly Defina)

Borlase also helped the Opals qualify for this year’s Olympics and has been selected in the extended squad for the Paris Games, which will be cut from 27 to 12 in coming months.

Jaz Shelley ensured there was an Australian selected in all three rounds of the draft, with the Nebraska alum taken 29th overall by the Phoenix Mercury, where she will join compatriots Bec Allen and Amy Atwell.

She will also get to play with WNBA superstars Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.

Sports content to make you think… or allow you not to. A newsletter delivered each Friday.