While the pandemic meant that Oregon women's basketball couldn't compete for the National Championship, freshman guard Jaz Shelley still got to bring home some hardware.
Basketball Victoria named Shelley the 2019 Junior Female Athlete of the Year for her stellar introduction in college basketball along with representing Victoria at the Under-20 Championships and the Australian Gems at the FIBA Under-19 World Cup.
Shelley had previously won the award in 2017 when she played for the Australia national team at the 2017 FIBA U19 Women's World Cup, averaging 10.6 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. She also won gold at the 2016 FIBA U17 Worlds for the first time in the country's history
"I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Basketball Victoria for this award," she said while accepting the award. "It means so much to me because they've been such a big part of my development and journey since I was a junior. The pathways that they've provided for me has been something that I'm always grateful for. I definitely wouldn't have been able to achieve some of my dreams and aspirations that I've set aside for myself if it wasn't for them."
At Oregon, Shelley averaged 6.3 points per game in 7.7 minutes per game coming off the bench while shooting 42% on three-point field goals.
On nearly any other team in the country, she would have played much more and probably even started, but she was behind two-time Wooden Award winner Sabrina Ionescu, graduate transfer Minyon Moore and Pac-12 Sixth Player of the Year Taylor Chavez.
"2019 was definitely a big year for me. I was fortunate enough to compete with U-20 Victoria side and we came home with the gold medal, and then went to Thailand to compete with the U-19 Australian Gems," continued Shelley. "We had an amazing tournament, we had an amazing time, we came home with the silver medal.
"I then did the biggest move of my life to the United States to compete and study with the University of Oregon. I had such amazing teammates and coaches and to travel across the country and play some of the best teams in the country, which I'm really thankful for."
Shelley's freshman season ended with a No. 2 overall ranking in the nation for the Oregon Ducks and being seen as the favorites to take home the National Championship. With Ionescu, Moore, Ruthy Hebard, and Satou Sabally all gone from Eugene, the 2019 Junior Female Athlete of the Year is expected to start at point guard next season, sharing a starting backcourt with Chavez.
That backcourt should do some damage after having a season of developing chemistry while torching bench units.
"I'm really excited with how we play together. I feel like we play really well together and off each other, so I'm excited," said Chavez in a win over Utah in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. "Just knowing when you kick it out to her, she's going to hit the three. That's one of the best feelings as a guard is knowing like when you find that person open is automatic three points. So that's always exciting."
"I think we have a connection, we know where each other's going to be," added Shelley. "She's always going to give me my threes, I'm always going to give her hers, so we know where we're going to be. It just clicks."
Oregon guard Jaz Shelley named 2019 Junior Female Athlete of the Year originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest