Mike Siroky's SEC Report: Making The WNBA Season Opener Rosters
The Southerastern Conference had good results with players drafted to be WNBA rookies.
The two first-rounders are no surprise in making rosters. Two more also made it. Three draftees were cut.
The first conference player picked was Kelsey Bone, perhaps the conference’s most complete player, from Texas A&M. She will be No. 3 for the New York Liberty. Right behind her is New York No. 4, Tennessee’s Kamiko Williams. They are the only two rookies kept. One of the holdover players is eight-year pro Kara Braxton of Georgia.
Bill Laimbeer is their coach. He previously won three WNBA titles as coach of the now-gone Detroit franchise. He is also the General Manager and so he made all the roster decisions.
“In the draft I think we addressed some of our weaknesses,” he said. “Kelsey Bone will add depth to our ‘bigs.’ Kelsey brings physical size and a toughness factor Kamiko Williams is an intriguing player who should learn well from veterans like Katie Smith. Kamiko is a very patient player, she sees the floor well and understands how to play basketball.”
“We are very excited about this draft class. We were able to select every player we targeted and I think they are excited to play for the New York Liberty.”
Los Angeles took Kentucky’s A’dia Mathies in the first round and promptly gave her the No. 1 jersey. At 5-9, she is the second-shortest player on the team. She averaged a basket in each of the pre-season games.
“We are excited to add A’dia to our already talented backcourt,” said Sparks Executive Vice President and general manager Penny Toler. “She is an all-around talented player who can run, shoot and defend and will be a solid force off the bench for us. With our diverse and deep roster, A’dia will be able to come in and play her game while sill developing and learning from veteran guards Kristi (Toliver), Lindsey (Harding) and Alana (Beard).”
“I am very thankful to the LA Sparks organization for brining me into the WNBA,” said Mathies. “This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and it’s exciting to have it come true in Los Angeles. I am looking forward to starting a new life and basketball career with the Sparks and my new teammates.”
The L.A. center is 6-4 Candace Parker of Tennessee, a five-year pro. She is among those featured on the team poster.
Mathies welcomes Bone in for a 4th of July matchup in their first game as professionals.
Anne Marie Armstrong, 6-3, 150 pounds, out of Georgia, made it at her hometown team, Atlanta, where she will wear No. 3. she averaged two baskets per game in the pre-season.
Atlanta kept three rookies. They waived two veterans in the final cut and “suspended” a player from Russia who is playing there instead.
Georgia teammate Jasmine Hassell last until one day before final cuts, with the Indiana fever. She played in both preseason games and averaged 5 points per game. Another Georgia teammate Jasmine James (Seattle) also was cut in training camp.
Atlanta also released forward Blanche Alverson after two games.
Alverson, an undrafted rookie from Auburn, was signed to a training camp contract in April and averaged 5.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in two preseason games.
The WNBA regular season runs through Sept. 15.
Then all of the above players will disperse to the highest bidders in the overseas pro leagues, where real money will be made. The WNBA players will arrive overseas in September.
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