Jade Melbourne "was so under the radar last year that no one even knew who she was".
Today the Canberra Capitals young gun is one of the WNBL's brightest stars and she has been crowned the rising star at the Canberra Sports Awards, which were held via an online ceremony on Thursday night.
Australian Olympic basketball hero Patty Mills was crowned the men's athlete of the year, snowsport champion Laura Peel the women's athlete of the year, and James Turner the para athlete of the year.
Now all eyes will be on Melbourne as the Capitals prepare to open their WNBL campaign against the Sydney Flames at Sydney Super Dome on Sunday.
"She flew under the radar so often," Capitals coach Paul Goriss said during the Capitals' pre-season.
"This year, teams, players and coaches around the league are going to know who she is, what she can do, and what her strengths are, and try to take those away. I don't think there will be anything from Jade Melbourne going under the radar in this WNBL season.
"It's my job to prepare her and to add some tools, but it's her personality and the way she approaches the game, she's always going to play hard, she's going to give great effort and she will have an impact.
"She is talented at the end of the day, and talent rises. We still forget how young she really is."
CANBERRA SPORT AWARDS 2021
Women's athlete of the Year - Laura Peel (Snowsport)
Men's athlete of the Year - Patty Mills (Basketball)
Para athlete of the Year - James Turner (Athletics)
Team of the Year - Olympic Rowing Mens Quadruple Scull (Rowing)
Outstanding Service to Sport - Trudy Fajri (AFL), Carl Ruhen (Boxing) and
Sanjay Sharma (Cricket)
Rising Star - Jade Melbourne (Basketball)
Award for Inclusion - Canberra Region Rugby League for Canberra Region Wheelchair Rugby League
Award for Innovation - Little Athletics ACT for Online Participation Program
Award for Event Excellence - Table Tennis ACT for the 2020 ACT Open
ACT Sport Hall of Fame - Full members: Jaime Fernandez (Rowing), Eddie Palubinskas (Basketball); Associate members: Phil Lynch (Sport Journalist) and Ben Gathercole (Triathlon)
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