Pick No.8 Heal ready to make WNBA mark

·2-min read

Shyla Heal, the daughter of Australian basketball great Shane Heal, says she can make an instant impact in the WNBA after her first-round draft selection.

The 19-year-old Heal says being picked with the eighth selection by Chicago Sky is a "dream come true".

"I have put absolutely everything into this - blood, sweat and tears," Heal said after the draft on Friday (AEDT).

"It has all paid off in this moment.

"I haven't been able to sleep the last two or three nights, I've been thinking about where I'm going to go.

"When I finally heard my name, weight dropped off my shoulders."

The irrepressible Heal, who made her WNBL debut at just 14-years-old, said she expected to play in the WNBA season which starts next month, rather than be "stashed" away as a development prospect.

"I have worked since I was a little kid for this, I don't want to be stashed, I'm ready to go now," she said.

Her father Shane, a four-time Olympian, had two stints in the NBA, with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996/97 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2003/04.

He echoed his daughter's belief that the 168cm tall guard was equipped to make an immediate impact.

"I feel emotional, proud, it's exciting ... I can't wait for her to get over there," he said.

"Some teams asked whether she would be prepared to be stashed for a year ... but this team has a specific role and a purpose they believe she can come in and contribute straight away."

Ex-WNBA superstar Lauren Jackson, now Basketball Australia's head of women's basketball, said Heal had the work ethic to succeed in the US.

"Everyone who has watched Shyla in the WNBL over recent seasons knows how incredibly talented she is," Jackson said.

"But it's her hard work away from the cameras which is even more impressive."

Heal was the sole Australian selection at the draft with compatriot Tiana Mangakahia overlooked and now hoping to be picked as an undrafted free agent ahead of the WNBA season starting May 14.