'Tough break': Shyla Heal cops brutal WNBA dumping after four games

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Shyla Heal is out of the WNBA after being traded by the Chicago Sky and subsequently waived.
Australian basketballer Shyla Heal has been traded by the Chicago Sky and subsequently waived, leaving her WNBA future in doubt after she was drafted eighth overall earlier this year. (Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images)

Australian basketballer Shyla Heal has been ruthlessly cut from WNBA team the Chicago Sky, mere months after they selected her with the eighth pick in the draft.

The Sky traded Heal, 19, to the Dallas Wings for fellow rookie Dana Evans, before she was subsequently waived.

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The move left Australian fans puzzled, given a visa issue had caused Heal to miss most of Chicago's training camp and she had seen limited playing time in just four games.

Heal was averaging two points per game and 2.5 turnovers in 7.8 minutes of play.

The Sky had been on a five-game losing streak before a buzzer-beating three pointer in an away game against the Phoenix Mercury - but Heal wasn't there to see it, having been informed of the trade at the airport before the team departed.

Heal's father, Australian basketball great Shane Heal, gave more of an insight into what had happened in a series of posts on Twitter.

"Tough break for Shyla. Was traded and waived today. 2 practice sessions & 20 odd mins. The team lost 5 straight home games so they cut 2 first round picks. Great experience that will make her even tougher. It's a business there. Super proud & know she will kill it there," Heal wrote.

Heal added that the manner of the axing was "character building".

"I luv her resilience. Being 19 & sitting in an apartment alone in Chicago is tough too. She will be ok. Lots of people going thru more difficult things in life. We appreciate the support," Heal senior said.

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One of the youngest players in the WNBA draft, Heal was taken with the eighth overall pick.

Sky coach and general manager James Wade believed she could have an immediate impact given she had played in the WNBL since she was 14.

But Heal was unable to participate in the Sky's training camp due to a delay with her visa application and only joined the team two weeks ago, which put her on the back foot heading into the season.

Heal averaged 16.7 points and 3.4 assists per game for Townsville in the WNBL last season.

After the Tokyo Olympics she will suit up for Sydney Uni Flames for the coming dometic campaign in Australia.

Shyla Heal cut from WNBA's Chicago Sky

Not short of professional experience after making her debut in the WNBL at just 14 years old, Heal averaged an impressive 16 points per game for the Townsville Fire last WNBL season.

Highlight outings of 30 and 28-point hauls in back-to-back WNBL finals helped the Fire reach the grand final, when they were beaten by the Southside Flyers.

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.

Heal was the sole Australian selection at the WNBA draft with compatriot Tiana Mangakahia overlooked.

Shyla Heal has been traded and waived out of the WNBA. (Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images)
Shyla Heal has been traded and waived out of the WNBA. (Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images)

Heal completed her first camp with Australia's senior team, the Opals, as she presses her claims for a spot in the squad for the Tokyo Olympics starting in late July.

Pre-draft, Opals coach Sandy Brondello - among the first Australians to play in the elite American league - said she had no doubt the 168cm-tall Heal had the qualities to flourish in the WNBA.

"Shyla's a good kid, super skilled, good pick-and-roll player who can score off the dribble or shoot threes and passes well," Brondello told AAP.

"That'll make her a pretty good pro, but it's that fearlessness that stands out.

"If she has one quiet game she's not going to have two quiet games; there's no fear, no intimidation factor and she believes in herself, she won't back down."

With AAP

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