Five ACC alums to appear in WNBA All-Star Game tonight on ESPN
Five women’s basketball standouts from ACC institutions will compete in the 2021 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game on Wednesday night. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. on ESPN from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.
Additionally, Virginia women’s basketball head coach and WNBA legend Tina Thompson will serve as co-head coach for Team WNBA, along with Lisa Leslie. Both are among the league’s most decorated players with Thompson winning four championships with the Houston Comets, earning nine All-Star selections and eight All-WNBA Team honors.
The matchup will showcase the WNBA’s top players, as Team WNBA squares off against the U.S. Olympic Team roster led by former Virginia All-American and two-time National Player of the Year Dawn Staley. The All-Star Game is one of many key elements in celebration of the WNBA’s 25th season, which will continue to recognize the incredible achievements of players to date while also serving as a celebratory send-off of the WNBA players who will compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale and Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby each earned their first All-Star selections and will compete for Team WNBA. Duke’s Chelsea Gray and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins-Smith and Jewell Loyd will don the Red, White and Blue as first-time Olympians. Diggins-Smith secured her fifth All-Star selection, while Gray and Loyd claimed their fourth and third, respectively.
The ACC’s five all-star selections are the second most of any conference.
Ogunbowale, the WNBA’s leading scorer last season with 22.8 ppg, is among the league leaders once again, ranking fourth at 20.3 ppg. Now in her third season with the Dallas Wings, the former ACC standout has scored at least 20 points in 11 of her 21 games.
Hamby is in her seventh season and fourth with the Las Vegas Aces. The former Demon Deacon has won the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year award in each of the past two seasons. Hamby is averaging 11.1 ppg off the bench and is first in bench rebounding with 6.7 rpg. She has scored 20 or more points three times this season with a season-high 25 points against the Indiana Fever on May 28.
Gray has started every game for the Las Vegas Aces in her first year with the squad and seventh season in the WNBA. One of the top players in Duke history, she is averaging a career-best 6.1 assists per game in addition to 11.5 ppg. Gray turned in one of her top performances of the season, along with teammate Hamby, against the Fever on May 28 with 19 points and 12 assists.
Diggins-Smith, in her first year with the Phoenix mercury, is also in her seventh WNBA season and is one of just two players to average at least 15 ppg and five assists per game. Her 19.1 points per game this year is the sixth best in the league. On July 3, she became the fastest player in league history to reach 3,000 career points and 1,000 assists. Diggins-Smith has scored double figures in all 19 games she’s played, surpassing 20 points on nine occasions.
In her sixth WNBA season, Loyd earned her third all-star and first Olympic Team selection after averaging 17.5 points per game to lead the Seattle Storm and rank among the league’s top 10. The Notre Dame product has tallied 20 or more points in seven games, headlined by a pair of 25-point outings. Loyd has hit 40 3-pointers to help the Storm lead the WNBA in 3-point percentage at 39.2.
Additionally, Loyd will compete in the WNBA MTN Dew 3-point contest that will take place at halftime of the all-star game.