|No. 5 – Washington Mystics|
|Born||June 15, 1985|
|Nationality||American / Australian|
|Listed height||5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)|
|Listed weight||138 lb (63 kg)|
|WNBA draft||2008 / Round: 2 / Pick: 25th overall|
|Selected by the Phoenix Mercury|
|2008–2013||New York Liberty|
|2012–2013||ŽKK Novi Zagreb|
|2014–2015||Sydney Uni Flames|
|2016–2017||Sydney Uni Flames|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at WNBA.com|
Leilani Seamah Mitchell (born June 15, 1985) is an American-Australian professional basketball player for the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Mitchell was drafted 25th overall by the Phoenix Mercury in the 2008 WNBA draft. A dual citizen of the United States and Australia, she is a member of Australian women's national basketball team (the Opals). In 2019 Mitchell became the first WNBA player to win the Most Improved Player Award twice.
Mitchell was born in Richland, Washington and is the only daughter of Dennis Mitchell and Eleanor Majid. Her father is American and her mother is Australian. She has five brothers: Tyler, Troy, Travis, Reggie, and Robbie. Mitchell has dual citizenship with both the United States of America and Australia. Mitchell's mother died from cancer in 2009.
High school career
Mitchell attended Kennewick High School in Kennewick, Washington. Mitchell was a four-year starter at Kennewick High School. Mitchell was named first-team all-state and all-conference as a junior and senior at Kennewick High School and earned Big Nine Conference Player of the Year honors as a senior. In four consecutive years, Mitchell led Kennewick High School to state championship games, including Kennewick's title-winning season of 2000.
University of Idaho
As a freshman, Mitchell finished fifth in the league in scoring (15.7 ppg), first in steals (3.08 spg) and assists (6.0 apg). She ranked seventh in the Big West in field goal percentage (47.8) and third in three-point shooting percentage (40.2). Mitchell was just one of two Big West players to record a double-double with points and assists during the season. Against Portland State (November 21), she dished out 16 assists and scored 11 points. Mitchell was named the 2004 Big West Freshman of the Year, and earned a spot on the Big West First Team.
Mitchell rose to national prominence in her sophomore year, and was named honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press and the WBCA in 2005–06. She was named one of 11 finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given to the nation's top point guard. Mitchell started all 30 games, averaging career-high 17.7 points, 5.9 assists and 3.9 steals per game. She set a school record with 118 steals, while her 178 assists were fourth-most on the Idaho single-season list, and her 168 free throws made ranked third on the school's single-season chart. She led the conference in both assists, and steals, and fourth in scoring.
In her junior year, Mitchell led the WAC and ranked second in the nation in steals in 2005–06, averaging 4.0 per game. She ranked first in the WAC and 18th nationally in assists, averaging 5.6 per contest, and scored 17.6 points per game. As a junior for Idaho, ranking second in the WAC and 50th in the nation. Mitchell left Idaho with the school's career record for steals (323) and 3-point field goals made in a single game (7 vs. Utah Valley State). On the Idaho single-season leader boards, she left ranking first in steals (118), second in 3-point field goals made in a season (69) and steals (115); seventh in assists (162); and eighth for free throws made (123). Career-wise she was second in assists (504); third in free throws made (433) and 3-point field goals made (164); fifth in points (1,471) and ninth in field goals made (441).
Mitchell transferred from Idaho to the University of Utah. She sat out the 2006–07 season under NCAA rules, and then played the 2007–08 season for Utah. In her lone season at Utah Mitchell averaged 16.8 ppg, 7.5 apg and 4.1 rpg, with seven double-doubles. She won five Mountain West Conference Player of the Week awards, more than any other player in the MW. She had eight 20-point games this year. That count included five 24-point outings and two season-high-tying 26-point games (at BYU and UNLV). Mitchell was named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. She finished her college career as one of only six NCAA Division I players since 1999–2000 to compile 2,000 points/500 rebounds/500 assists/300 steals in her career.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|2006-07||Utah||Did not play – transfer|
Mitchell was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury twenty-fifth overall in the second round of 2008 WNBA Draft. Mitchell was then traded to the New York Liberty during the 2008 pre-season after the Liberty acquired Mitchell in a trade in exchange for a 2009 third round draft pick. Initially a bench player, Mitchell made her first professional start on June 6, 2008, in place of the injured Loree Moore. In her first career start against the Houston Comets she had team-high 18 points going perfect 6–6 from the floor including 3–3 from three-point range. During the 2008 season she developed a strong fan following and a reputation for fearlessness in grabbing loose balls and occasionally driving to the basket. Mitchell scored 14 points in the Liberty's narrow loss to the Detroit Shock in Game 3 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals.
Mitchell had a breakout year in the 2010 WNBA season. She became the regular starting point guard in the 2010 season, after the Liberty released Moore in the offseason. Mitchell averaged career-high 9.3 points and 3.8 assists per game. She scored 10-plus points 14 times, and lead the league in three-point field-goal percentage (48.6). Mitchell scored her first 20-point game against the Tulsa Shock. She won the 2010 WNBA Most Improved Player Award. On September 2, 2011, Mitchell scored a career-high 24 points in a win against the Minnesota Lynx.
On April 21, 2014, Mitchell announced that she was taking the 2014 WNBA season off to spend time with her family in Australia. As a result, on August 7, 2014, the Liberty waived Mitchell. On February 4, 2015, Mitchell signed with the Phoenix Mercury. On June 12, 2015, vs Indiana Fever, Mitchell scored then career-high 25 points, going 8–14 from the floor including 7–10 from three-point range. On July 5, 2015, Mitchell hit the go ahead three-point shot in overtime with 3.9 seconds, in a 94–91 win over the Los Angeles Sparks. On August 27, 2015, she scored 16 points and made a three-pointer from the top of the key at the horn to give Phoenix an 81–80 win over the Connecticut Sun. In 2016, Mitchell signed with the Washington Mystics in the second half of the season to fill a roster gap at the point guard position. She played 10 games off the bench and averaged 5.9 ppg. In 2017, Mitchell returned to the Phoenix Mercury in free agency.
On May 23, 2019, the Phoenix Mercury waived Mitchell. After releasing Arica Carter and the standard 10 waiting period after Mitchell cleared all waiver, the Mercury resigned Mitchell on June 5, 2019. On June 28, 2019, Mitchell recorded her first career double double as she had 18 points and then career high 11 assists. On July 30, 2019, against the Washington Mystics, she scored then career-high 28 points and tied a WNBA-record 8 threes in a single game. Against her former team the New York Liberty, Mitchell scored her career-high 29 points on August 27. Mitchell ended the 2019 season averaging double figure points for the first time in her career as the Mercury finished 15–19 with the 8th seed in the league. The Mercury lost 105–76 to the Chicago Sky in the first round elimination game. Mitchell won the WNBA Most Improved Player Award, becoming the first player in either the NBA or WNBA to win the award twice.
In February 2020, Mitchell signed with the Mystics in free agency. On September 4, 2020, Mitchell recorded her second career double double as she had 20 points and career high 12 assists. She scored playoff career-high 25 points in the Mystics' loss to her former team Phoenix Mercury in the first round, losing the single elimination game 85–84.
During the WNBA off-season, Mitchell has played for ASPTT Arras in the Ligue Féminine de Basketball (LFB), a French professional league. For the 2009–10 season, Mitchell won the Import Player of the Year Award and was named to the LFB 1st Team. In 2012–2013, Mitchell played for the ŽKK Novi Zagreb in the Croatian League. Since 2013, Mitchell has been playing for the WNBL where she has played with multiple teams.
Mitchell has been a regular member of the Australian national team, the 'Opals', since 2014, when won a bronze medal in the 2014 World Championship. She was a member of the Australian senior team at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where Australia fell in the quarterfinals.
Mitchell, like all the other members of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Opals women's basketball team, had a difficult tournament. The Opals lost their first two group stage matches. They looked flat against Belgium and then lost to China in heartbreaking circumstances. In their last group match the Opals needed to beat Puerto Rico by 25 or more in their final match to progress. This they did by 27 in a very exciting match. However, they lost to the USA in their quarterfinal 79 to 55.
WNBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game||RPG||Rebounds per game|
|APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game||BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
|TO||Turnovers per game||FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|Bold||Career high||°||League leader|
|Career||12 years, 4 teams||367||187||22.1||.398||.388||.835||2.1||3.1||0.9||0.2||1.3||6.6|
|Career||9 years, 3 teams||34||15||19.2||.393||.391||.923||1.6||2.3||0.5||0.2||1.4||5.9|
- Booth, Doug (December 26, 2013.)Star Ranger laps up Territory Christmas. NT News (page 49). Retrieved 2014-06-11
- Basketball Australia. Player: Leilani Mitchell. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
- FIBA World Championship for Women. Joyce thrilled to get Mitchell on board. Retrieved 2014-04-18
- "Basketball MITCHELL Leilani - Tokyo 2020 Olympics". olympics.com. Retrieved 2021-10-13.
- Heyman, Brian (August 21, 2010). "Heart Lighter and Game Honed, Point Guard Leads the Liberty". New York Times. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
- [Vandal]Profile: Leilani Mitchell Archived 2008-08-31 at the Wayback Machine
- WNBA Player of the Week Leilani Mitchell puts herself on Brendan Joyce's Opals radar. news.com.au. Retrieved 2014-06-11
- Potter, Jarrod (January 20, 2014). The colour of Opal. Star News Group Pty. Retrieved 2014-06-11
- Columnist, Gordon Monson Tribune. "Monson: Utah's Mitchell has transcended turmoil". Retrieved 2016-08-02.
- "Leilani Mitchell: AP All-American". Retrieved 2016-08-02.
- "Hays: Timing is everything for Mitchell, Utes". ESPN.com. 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2017-09-12.
- "NCAA Statistics". web1.ncaa.org. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-04. Retrieved 2013-08-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Leila Mitchell Bio
- "Newsday | Long Island's & NYC's News Source". Newsday. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
- STL. "WNBA Player Profile: Leilani Mitchell". www.shesaballer.com. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
- Cherwoo, Vin A. (August 26, 2010). "Liberty's Leilani Mitchell is WNBA's most improved". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
- "Page not found - New York Liberty". New York Liberty. Retrieved 2017-09-12. Cite uses generic title (help)
- Mercury Sign Leilani Mitchell, Jasmine James Archived 2015-02-07 at the Wayback Machine
- Today, Mystics. "Mystics Sign Leilani Mitchell | Mystics Today". Mystics Today. Retrieved 2017-09-12.
- "Phoenix Mercury Sign Olympian Leilani Mitchell - WNBA.com - Official Site of the WNBA". WNBA.com - Official Site of the WNBA. Retrieved 2017-09-12.
- "LFB_2009-2010 Basketball League FRANCE - eurobasket". www.eurobasket.com. Retrieved 2017-09-12.
- "Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo 2021". The Roar. Retrieved 2021-10-14.
- "AUSSIE WRAP: WNBA WEEK 10". Lachy France. July 26, 2018.