Nine-year WNBA veteran, 2010 WNBA Most Improved Player and Australian Olympian Leilani Mitchell today signed a two-year contract extension with the three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury, the team has announced. Mitchell is expected to return to Phoenix the week of May 14 following her overseas playing commitment.
“Lei adds so much to our team and we are very happy to sign her to an extension today,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman. “She’s a great shooter, can really create for others and she competes every possession on both ends of the court. She is an important part of our core this year and beyond.”
The 5-foot-5 Mitchell is a 39.2-percent career three-point shooter, the fourth-best career mark among active WNBA players and the 16th-best in the history of the league. Mitchell played for the Mercury in 2015, did not return to the team in 2016 due to the Olympics, and finished the season as Phoenix’s starting point guard in 2017. One of the league’s best shooters, Mitchell finished fourth in the WNBA in three-point percentage (39.9 percent) in 2015 and seventh in three-pointers made (44), and previously led the league in three-point percentage in 2010 with a 48.6 percent clip from long range. Mitchell was named the league’s Most Improved Player that season after finishing second that season in three-point field goals (72), trailing only current teammate Diana Taurasi.
Originally selected by the Mercury with the 25th overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft before being traded to New York, Mitchell is coming off a 2017 season with the Mercury in which she averaged 8.0 points and 3.6 assists in 34 games, both of which were her highest marks in each of those stats since her decorated 2010 campaign (9.3 points and 3.8 assist per game). Additionally, she shot 38.9 percent from three-point range and 82.4 percent from the free throw line.
Mitchell started in all five of the Mercury’s playoff games a season ago, where she was instrumental in helping guide the team to the WNBA Semifinals for a fifth-straight season. She averaged career playoff-highs in points (15.0) and assists (3.8), to go along with 1.2 steals per game, and a 95.5-percent mark at the free throw line.
The daughter of an Australian mother and American father, Mitchell was raised in the U.S. and became an Australian citizen in 2014. In 2016, she played in her first Olympic Games, representing Australia in Rio, and also won a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships. A longtime member of the WNBL, Australia’s professional women’s league, Mitchell has twice been named the league’s best point guard (2014, 2016) as a member of the All-Star Five. Mitchell missed all but 10 games of the WNBA season in 2016 due to national team commitments, signing with the Washington Mystics after Rio.
Currently playing for Hatay BSB in the Turkey KBSL league, the 32-year-old Mitchell leads her team in three-point field goal percentage (43.4%), assists (4.2 assists) and steals (1.2 steals).
WNBA all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi and 2017 WNBA scoring champion Brittney Griner return to Phoenix this summer to lead the Mercury in a quest for the franchise’s WNBA-record tying fourth championship. Tickets for Fry’s Food Stores Opening Night on Friday, May 18, and the rest of the Mercury’s 2018 home games are on sale NOW and can be purchased by calling 602.252.WNBA or by visiting PhoenixMercury.com.