Trio of First-timers Headline WNBA All-Star Reserves
NEW YORK (AP) — Diamond DeShields, Erica Wheeler and Odyssey Sims will make their All-Star debuts this month after the trio was selected Monday for the game in Las Vegas.
DeShields will be joined in the July 27 game by two of her Chicago Sky teammates. Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley also were chosen as reserves by the league's coaches.
"The dream was always to play in the WNBA," said Wheeler, who went undrafted after four years of playing for Rutgers. "But being an All-Star? That takes hard work. It means the world to me because it validates my journey — never give up, always work hard and do everything you can to get to the next level. Coming in undrafted, this is really different for me. I was speechless when I found out."
Wheeler, who plays for the Indiana Fever, is only the fifth undrafted free agent ever to make the All-Star Game. She is the first undrafted player to debut in the league since 2003 to earn an All-Star spot.
The other reserves selected are Tina Charles of New York, Candice Dupree of Indiana, DeWanna Bonner of Phoenix, Sylvia Fowles of Minnesota, Nneka Ogwumike of Los Angeles, Alyssa Thomas of Connecticut and Kristi Toliver of Washington. Sims also plays for Minnesota. The coaches had to vote for three guards, five frontcourt players and four players at either position regardless of conference. The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.
Captains Elena Delle Donne and A'ja Wilson will choose their teams from the eight other starters and then the 12 reserves. Other frontcourt starters announced last week are Liz Cambage and Kayla McBride of Las Vegas, Phoenix's Brittney Griner, Seattle's Natasha Howard and Connecticut's Jonquel Jones. The starting guards are Los Angeles' Chelsea Gray, Seattle's Jewell Loyd and New York's Kia Nurse.
Delle Donne, who plays for Washington, has first pick of the starters and Wilson, who plays for Las Vegas, has top choice of the reserves. Coincidentally, Delle Donne's team will be coached by Las Vegas' Bill Laimbeer and Wilson's by Washington's Mike Thibault.
The WNBA added festivities for the night before the All-Star Game with a 3-point shootout, skills competition and beach party.