After a tremendous showing in the gold medal game of the FIBA World Cup, Ezi Macbegor will be making WNBA talent scouts take notice.
The story of Ezi Macbegor is an interesting one. A superstar in the national team in junior age groups, she would have attracted many a talent scout. In fact, the most successful university program, the University of Connecticut offered her a spot on their roster.
Unfortunately for UCONN, Macbegor turned them down in favour of the Melbourne Boomers, a professional club in the WNBL. Macbegor is now the first Australian player to receive a scholarship offer from UCONN and is also the first Australian player to turn down a scholarship offer from UCONN.
It is easy to see why she has garnered the attention. In the under 17’s world’s Macbegor was tournament MVP and led an undefeated Australia to the tournament crown. She was instrumental in beating the USA team, something that had never been done before at this level.
Naturally, after this success, Australian clubs wanted to secure the signature of the Autralian phenom and when she commited to the Boomers for three years, it appeared the die was set. Macbegor wanted to play profesionally as this would develop her game the most.
Going up against Liz Cambage in training would be an absolute fast track for any young athlete. Macbegor appears to be thirsty for knowledge and playing against the best center in Australia and arguably the world is one of the best learning experiences a young player can have.
It appears to have payed off with Macbegor being selected to the Opals for the recent World Cup campaign. Unfortunately for the team they were beaten by the stacked Team USA, placing second. However, having stayed up to watch most of the games in the tournament, it appears Australian basketball is in a tremendous place.
The Opals finished second in the world, that is a tremendous acheivement. In this run, Macbegor further announced herself as a leader of the national team; in only her second tournament. Macbegor averaged 7.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in limited minutes. However, it was not the numbers which popped off the page, it was how she got them and the impact she had on the court.
In the final, established stars Liz Cambage and Cayla George were struggling against the USA defense. These two players had been huge all tournament but Team USA seemed to be all over them. The bench stepped up for Australia. Macbegor put a couple of moves on the USA defense which left them trailing. I was reminded of a young Nneka Ogwumike with some of the drives to the hoop.
However, it was not only her scoring which helped the Australians. Macbegor pulled in multiple defensive rebounds, not allowing second chance points which had been killing the Australian’s. What is scary is that Macbegor is only 19. She has a lot of growth left in her game meaning there is no telling where her ceiling is yet.
It is an exciting time for Australian basketball. Macbegor is going to be a tremendous servant to the green and gold. She is also going to be a tremendous peice for a WNBA team in the future. Many more performances like she gave against the USA and Macbegor will easily go first round when she nominates for the draft.