Making their mark in the US

File photograph




TWO locals are making their mark in the world of basketball over in the United States, as the NBA reaches the finals and the WNBA season begins.

Traralgon’s Jade Melbourne recently made her WNBA debut for the Seattle Storm, featuring in their opening game against the Las Vegas Aces.

It was a tough game for the Storm, going up against what is predicted to be a top Aces side in 2023.

The Storm went down by 41 points, but Melbourne made her debut off the bench.

As she begins to find her feet, she played six minutes, scoring two points and providing an assist.

Her dad, Brett Melbourne, spoke on how it felt to see her debut in the top league, but believes it was more exciting seeing her play in the first preseason game.

“It was against Phoenix (Mercury), she went on and had to guard Diana Taurasi, as she’s bouncing the ball down she thought at one stage she should give her the ball and say ‘Can you sign this?’,” Brett said.

Taurasi is one of the most decorated women’s basketball players on the planet, boasting five Olympic gold medals, numerous championships, MVPs, you name it.

Nonetheless, Jade appears to be determined to earn her spot on the Storm roster.

“It’s pretty good, she’s not really nervous anymore, she actually wants to get on there and get up the roster, she’s just gotta be patient, her time will come,” Brett said.

“She’s pretty dedicated, but she’s very young, it’s just a matter of holding onto your spot, it’s very cut-throat.

“She just loves the game, she’s a real basketball nerd, I don’t know where she gets it from.”

Jade has been playing basketball since under 10s and has always shown a liking to it, despite playing other sports.

“She played AFL (Aussie Rules) until about under 13s, but she had to pick one because she started to rep Vic Country in basketball and trainings in Shepparton and Bendigo,” Brett said.

For those that don’t know Jade, her dad described her mentality as she hopes to develop a WNBA career.

“She’ll never give up, she wants to play for Australia, she wants to go to the Olympics,” Brett said.

There are currently eight Aussies in the WNBA system for 2023, giving Jade a good chance to prove her worth and earn herself a trip to Paris in 2024 for the Olympics.

Brett and the family hope to go and watch her play during the year, and also celebrate her 21st birthday.

“She turns 21 in August, we’re planning to leave on the 3rd (of August),” Brett said.


IN the men’s code, the NBA, Traralgon’s Jack White also now has a chance of a championship ring, after the Denver Nuggets took out the Western Conference.

White is on a two-way contract with the Nuggets, representing their G-League side, the Grand Rapids Gold, too.

Denver swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals to reserve themselves a spot in the NBA finals, where they will face either the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics.

Although White hasn’t played any finals games, he has featured throughout 17 games during the regular season.

Despite this, he is still a chance to collect an NBA chip, but it ultimately comes down to the owner.

In the past at other franchises, rings can be given out to players, coaches, trainers and even cheerleaders.