• Australian Basketball great Lauren Jackson and rising star Ezi Magbegor (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Lauren Jackson’s impact for Seattle Storm was so profound the WNBA team retired the famous No.15 jersey upon her 2016 retirement.
By
Megan Hustwaite

25 Aug 2020 - 3:50 PM  UPDATED 25 Aug 2020 - 3:50 PM

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Just four years on, another Aussie is making waves for the Storm, 20-year-old Ezi Magbegor, and Jackson, Australia’s greatest ever basketballer, is along for the ride.

“It’s huge what Ezi’s doing, I love it. I loved watching Seattle when other Aussies were over there, Jenna O’Hea and Abby Bishop, and now Ezi’s making her mark,’’ Jackson told SBS Sport.

“I’m just super proud of her. The last three to four years Ezi has just gone from strength to strength and, for me, the biggest gain has been going over to the WNBA and playing there. Watching her thrive in that environment has been incredible and hopefully, the rapid growth in her game continues when she returns to Australia and the WNBL.”

Selected in the second round of last year’s draft, the athletic forward from Melbourne has made an immediate impact in her rookie season averaging 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds off the bench. She’s scored in all bar one game, registering double figures against Chicago (13 points) and (12) Las Vegas.

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Jackson knows the WNBA better than most. She played for the Storm for 12 seasons, is a seven-time All-Star, three-time league MVP and was a dominant force in two championships (2004, 2010).

She, too, debuted in the WNBA as a raw but supremely talented teenager from Down Under in 2001 with the best league in the world playing a huge role in the acceleration of her development.

“Playing against grown women, and some of the best athletes in the world, gives you a different level of experience,’’ Jackson explains.

“The fact that Ezi is actually evolving, her game is changing - it’s really exciting. I want to see Ezi come back to Australia and dominate and I think this experience will take her to the next level and that for me is really, really exciting.”

Following the Storm’s season, Magbegor will return to Australia where she is primed for a big campaign with Melbourne Boomers in the WNBL ahead of a huge 2021 calendar year of basketball including the Tokyo Olympics.

Jackson believes Magbegor’s rookie WNBA year will fill her with crucial confidence

“Confidence is huge for any athlete but for Ezi, in particular, to go over to the WNBA and do what she is doing and take her game to another level is really special. It’s special to watch.

“We’ve had some great Australian athletes go over and play some incredible basketball but I just think the strides Ezi’s making at the moment are really obvious and it’s clear that she’s a baller. She’s ready to go.”

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Today, four years on from her retirement, Jackson, 39, is a mother of two beautiful and very tall sons, Harry, 3, and Lenny, 2, and is busy making an impact beyond the baseline as Head of Women’s Basketball at Basketball Australia.

Among a hectic schedule, she continues to keep a close eye on the WNBA and her beloved Seattle.

“Oh yeah. They’ll be going for a championship this year I think,’’ Jackson says.

“They’re playing great basketball and it’s brutal over there in the Wubble, the season structure. The athletes are fit and they’re strong and it’s like tournament play. It’s really fun to watch.”