Leilani MitchellBorn and raised in the US, Leilani Mitchell would eventually return to her mother’s homeland and get her chance to line up at an Olympic Games in the green and gold. Following a strong college career she played from 2008-13 for the New York Liberty in the WNBA as well as spending time in both France and Croatia.
She headed to Australia in 2013 to play for the Dandenong
Rangers and have the opportunity to get her Australian citizenship. Mitchell
first lined up for the Australian side in 2014 and later that year would help
the team claim World Championship bronze. Having balanced her time between the
WNBL and the WNBA since she became one of the first picked in the national side
and would get the chance to make her Olympic debut.
In Rio, Australia opened their campaign against hosts Brazil and after trailing by ten at the first break, the side fought back to secure a 84-66 win as Mitchell finished with 18 points and 6 assists. A close victory over Turkey was followed up with another dominant 18 point victory over France. Facing Japan in their third match, the side was down by 16 early in the fourth quarter before Mitchell’s 18 points helped the side claim a 92-86 win. Another dominant fourth quarter saw Australia complete another comeback, this time against Belarus, as the Aussies finished the group undefeated to set up a quarter-final clash with Serbia. The match was back and forth the whole way with Serbia claiming a two point lead with just 10 seconds to go. The Aussies had the chance to level the match but couldn’t score as the side's run of five straight women’s Olympic basketball medals came to an end.
In 28 minutes per game in Rio, Mitchell was one of the side’s best averaging 11.3 points, 3 rebounds and 4.5 assists.