The Sydney Flames have pulled off another massive coup, securing the services of former New York Liberty star Didi Richards as their second import for the upcoming WNBL season.
Richards completes the Flames roster for the 2023/24 season, which is headlined by Cayla George, fresh off a strong WNBA campaign, as well as Las Vegas Aces and Opals captain Tess Madgen. 2022 Boomers championship coach Guy Molloy will also return to the club after being named interim coach in April.
The guard spent two seasons at the New York Liberty playing under Opals head coach Sandy Brondello, although she missed most of the 2022 season due to a hamstring injury. Prior to being drafted, she spent four seasons with Baylor where she led her side to the 2019 NCAA championship.
When asked what drew her to making the move to Australia, she said it was a chance for her to ramp up her return to court while rediscovering her love for the game.
“There are multiple reasons why I’m excited to head to Sydney and join the Flames,” Richards said.
“Normally, during the off-season, I stay in the United States and train in the WNBA off-season, while also doing some modelling off the court. But I thought that after not playing recently because of injury, it was important for me to spend as much time playing on the court and with the ball in my hands.
“If I’m being honest, I fell out of love with the game a few years ago, but am excited to get that back at a great club like Sydney and in a beautiful country like Australia – which everyone believes I will love.
“It just feels like the perfect place for me to ramp up my return to court – I can’t wait to arrive in the next few weeks.”
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RIchards is known for her defensive game, as well as her energy that she brings to her team, which is what made her a favourite amongst fans at Liberty.
Her defensive presence at the Ladybears was recognised when the 24-year-old claimed the 2020 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and WBCA Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Selected with Pick 17 in the 2021 WNBA draft, Richards completed a successful debut season, earning selection in the WNBA All-Rookie team. The draft selection completed an inspirational return after she sustained a spinal cord injury that led to temporary paralysis in 2020. However, that would not derail her career, taking to the court just 38 days later, completing the season for Baylor.
Richards said that she can adapt and play in whatever role the team needs her to, while bringing that spark both on and off the court.
“Anyone who knows me, can testify that I’m a versatile player, who can play and guard one through five,” she said.
“I’m also someone who can adapt to any role the coach or team needs me to play – being happy to lead at times but also learn and continue to grow as a player.
“Not only that but I can bring energy and fun to the locker room while also setting the tone defensively – being the competitor I am.
“I’m confident if I do all of those things at a consistent level, while also continuing to be a student in my recovery process, all my and the team’s goals will take care of themselves.”
The Sydney Flames will kick start their season on November 2nd against the Perth Lynx over in Perth.