Francis, a 25-year old 6'4 center comes to the Mercury from the WNBL's JCU Townsville Fire where is averaging 17.2 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. She is also averaging 38% (19-of-50) of her three point shots over 17 games played. Francis was also a member of the Australian Opals 2014 FIBA World Championship team. She is teammates in the WNBL with Mercury swingman Penny Taylor.
Mitchell, a 29-year old point guard is the most notable player on the list, where she most recently played for the New York Liberty and won the 2010 Most Improved Player Award. She is currently playing for the Sydney Uni Flames where she is averaging 12.9 points and a league-leading 5.6 assists per game. Mitchell played on the Opals' 2014 FIBA World Championship team along with Francis.
James is a 23-year old guard who played 16 games with the Mercury in 2013 until she suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Quick analysis on the signings
In light of Diana Taurasi's announcement to sit out the 2015 WNBA season, let's start with Mitchell. She figures to be in the running for the starting point guard spot with Taurasi out for the season. Once she is back in 2016, Mitchell could perhaps remain a starter, given that Taylor is getting past her prime. James was a bench player in 2013, and I expect that she remains a bench player this season, should she be on the final roster.
The Mercury already have a plethora of low post talent including Brittney Griner and Candice Dupree, so it is to be expected that Francis will be playing off the bench to give them breathers. Unlike Mistie Bass or Ewelina Kobryn who are also backup posts, Francis will also be a stretch post which may give a lot of defenses fits this summer.
Probably the biggest thing that sticks out is the Australian influence on Phoenix's roster. Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello is Australian and is a decorated player in her own right. Taylor and Phillips were Australians who played on last year's WNBA championship team. The Mercury now could have four Australian players, including Francis and Mitchell, should both Taylor and Phillips re-sign with Phoenix this season.
The Phoenix Mercury have made some notable signings to beef up their rotation in the post and the perimeter for 2015. You can't replace Diana Taurasi's production or leadership, and these additions won't be expected to do that. However, Francis, Mitchell, and James are still solid pickups for a roster that still should still be in the playoff picture this summer.