Shelley returns to Geelong as first WNBL signing

June 5, 2024 BY

Jaz Shelley has been announced as Geelong United's first WNBL signing for season 2024/25. Photo: JOHN PETERSON/AP

GEELONG United’s first player signing of the 2024-25 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season has been announced. with collegiate star and former Geelong NBL1 player Jaz Shelley set to join Chris Lucas’ side.

A 5-foot-9 point guard and sharpshooter, Shelley joins Geelong after recently being drafted by the Phoenix Mercury in the 2024 WNBA draft as the 29th overall pick.

Shelley is returning home in a sense, having previously played for Geelong at the NBL1 level during the 2019 season, averaging 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game before jetting off to the United States to begin her collegiate career with Oregon.

“It’s kind of a full circle feeling to be back at Geelong,” Shelley said.

“I played here about five years ago just before I went to college, and now one of my first years back in Australia being able to play for Geelong in a WNBL season is pretty incredible.

“It was honestly a difficult decision to decide where I wanted to play WNBL. Being away for so long, it was hard to decipher which club would be right.

“Everything kept coming back to Geelong, knowing the people, knowing the organisation, knowing the area was something that really excited me, but also being so close to my family, that was a huge part for me.”

Now a WNBA draftee and boasting a full collegiate background, Shelley has returned to Australia significantly improved since her last appearance at The Geelong Arena.

Shelley’s own assessment of that echoes the sentiment after playing two seasons at Oregon and two seasons at Nebraska.

“I think my game has changed a lot,” Shelley said.

“My basketball IQ, ability to read the game and assist my teammates has improved. On the defensive end, I’m much better in that area. I also think consistently shooting the three and at a deep range is something Geelong will see from me now that they didn’t five years ago.”

Lucas, who was announced as the side’s inaugural coach a week ago, said he was elated the club had made its first signing in Shelley.

“I’m extremely pleased to have Jaz as our first signing. It’s exciting to welcome her to Geelong United in its inaugural WNBL season.

“She has had an outstanding college career and is a player I know will fit the culture and values we are establishing as we put a team together for the future.”

Last month, Shelley was announced as a member of the Ballarat Miners’ NBL1 squad for the remainder of the season, meaning she will play a few games of basketball before the start of the WNBL season.

She said she would not settle for anything less than making finals and possibly winning a championship in Geelong’s return to the nation’s top women’s basketball competition.