19/04/2024

Any Atwell in action for Hawaii University. Source: Hawaii University Website

After six years in Hawaii, Australian Amy Atwell has achieved her WNBA draft day dream. Her collegiate coach Laura Beeman spoke to The Inner Sanctum about her journey to the pros.

It’s been a long journey for Amy Atwell, but this week the Australian – who had been cultivating her craft with the University of Hawaii basketball program – became one of the few Australians to be drafted to the WNBA.

Atwell became an overnight sensation in the Australian basketball landscape when she was drafted to the Sparks after a collegiate career full of trials and tribulations.

For the past six years, Atwell has been developing her game at The University of Hawaii under coach Laura Beeman.

The time in Hawaii hasn’t been easy for Atwell as she battled injury and COVID over her time in Hawaii. Her first season saw her miss the whole year with a knee injury that kept her off the court.

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She spent that year travelling with the team and upon her return in her second season, suffered another setback with a tear to her meniscus in the other knee.

Neither injury deterred Atwell and she used the time to develop her game – especially her shooting. It took her game to another level, averaging 4.8 points per game in the 2018-2019 season to 10.3 points per game the following year.

“She was in top-notch shape, that when she would get tired she still shot the ball the same way. She was able to defend, to rebound, to get up and down the floor,” Atwell’s coach Laura Beeman told The Inner Sanctum.

Then there was the COVID season which brought new challenges, with the 23-year-old being away from home. It was another test of Atwell’s resilience and character that saw her use adversity to help strengthen her game on and off the court. 

“When Amy decided that she wanted to win a championship here with our program and continue to pursue a professional career, she absolutely committed to her physical condition and mentally making sure she was ready to go,” Beeman said.

“She just changed a lot of habits in order to put herself in the position that she is in today.”

This season saw Atwell have her best year yet. She took her shooting to another level again where she averaged 17.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. The dominant year saw her take out the Big West Conference player of the year, the first time for a player from the University of Hawaii.

From a team perspective, The Hawaii Rainbow Wahine won the Big West Championship for the first time. Atwell’s performance played a big part in them getting over the line.

Being drafted to the WNBA is no easy feat, with only 36 spots on offer for 100-plus girls that nominate. Their name being called out also doesn’t guarantee a list spot like many other sports across the world.

Players are invited to a training camp and have to play and train their way onto the 12-player roster for each team. This year with salary cap issues, we could see this drop to 11 players on some teams.

For Atwell, it is a time to showcase her skills, not only to the Sparks franchise but to the international basketball world.

“I think she’s kind of auditioning for multiple teams in the WNBA because everyone’s going to be watching. Every team needs a shooter,” Coach Beeman said.

“If she does not make a roster spot in the WNBA, I think it’s going to raise her stock for her international basketball.”

Atwell is now in Los Angeles, training with the Sparks, which is a team that is actively looking for another shooter with versatility to add to their roster.

“The best thing for Amy is for her to get out there and play like it doesn’t matter, if Amy does that she will shoot the ball well. She’ll play well in this tryout,” Beeman said.

“If she doesn’t make the Sparks, she has the opportunity to land on another roster. It was wonderful to see her grow as a young woman, her confidence, her commitment to basketball, her commitment to fulfilling her dreams, and her goals.”

The Los Angeles Sparks will play their first pre-season game on April 23rd against the Seattle Storm.

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