WNBA Draft Lottery: Indiana Fever land franchise’s first-ever No. 1 overall pick (and likely Aliyah Boston)

The Fever will get to pick first in the 2023 WNBA Draft.

Friday’s WNBA Draft Lottery landed the Indiana Fever the first pick of the 2023 WNBA Draft, with the Minnesota Lynx, Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics rounding out the rest of the lottery in that order.

If it holds onto the pick, Indiana will have its first No. 1 selection in franchise history and a chance to draft a franchise-changing player.

That franchise-changing player is widely assumed to be South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, whose college basketball resume includes a national championship, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Naismith National Player of the Year and National Defensive Player of the Year honors, among many others.

Some other prospects that projected to be chosen in the lottery include Stanford’s Haley Jones, Maryland’s Diamond Miller and UCLA’s Charisma Osborne.

The 2023 WNBA Draft is scheduled for April 10, 2023.

Caesar’s Sportsbook lists the Las Vegas Aces (+200) to win the title next season, followed by Connecticut (+350), Seattle Storm (+600) and Chicago Sky (+650)

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Sabrina Ionescu becomes Director of Athletic Culture on WBB staff

Oregon women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves announced Sabrina Ionescu will be joining his staff on a part-time basis in a new role.

It was only a matter of time before the best women’s basketball player to come back home to Oregon.

Coach Kelly Graves announced on Friday that Sabrina Ionescu would join his staff part-time to become the Director of Athletic Culture.

“There is no better person I could think of for this position than Sabrina,” Graves said. “Sabrina exemplifies what it means to be an Oregon Duck and she represents everything our program is about. Even in just a part-time capacity, she will have the ability to make an immediate impact on our student-athletes and our program as a whole. She truly is a basketball icon that will be able to connect and develop our players off the court.”

In her part-time role, Ionescu will help develop student-athletes and cultivate Graves’ five pillars of Oregon women’s basketball: passion, integrity, unity, thankfulness, and servanthood. Additionally, she will be a resource and example for current, former, and future Ducks.

Ionescu has another job as the guard for the WNBA’s New York Liberty, but in the off-season, she’ll be Eugene in a new capacity.

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Brittney Griner’s already fraught wrongful imprisonment in Russia just got even worse in a horrifying way

Here’s everything you need to know about Brittney Griner’s horrifying situation

It’s been 8 months since Russia wrongfully detained Brittney Griner for having vape cartridges with hashish oil.

In the time since Griner has been sentenced to 9 years in prison. Her family and supporters have constantly called for her release to no avail. No progress has been made. The US government offered to swap prisoners with Russia, but it didn’t work. Griner and her lawyers tried to appeal her sentence, but it was denied.

Now, Griner’s wrongful imprisonment is going to get even worse.

Russia has begun the process of moving Griner to a penal colony, according to reporting from ESPN’s T.J. Quinn. Her family has no idea where she is right now or where she’s being moved to and notification can take weeks.

This is horrifying — plain and simple. This puts Griner is some very real and potentially life-threatening danger.

Let’s look at the details.

South Carolina standout Aliyah Boston inks NIL deal with Orangetheory including a signature workout

Keep up with Aliyah if you can.

One of college basketball’s biggest and most accomplished players is set to build on an already wildly successful calendar year.

Aliyah Boston, a 2022 National Champion, Final Four Most Outstanding Player and Naismith Player of the Year (the list goes on), has landed a name, image, and likeness deal (NIL) with Orangetheory Fitness.

The standout South Carolina Gamecock forward spoke with For The Win about her partnership with the global fitness brand.

“The Orangetheory workouts are very well-rounded,” said Boston. “You get a little bit of everything.”

Orangetheory Fitness, a female-founded company, is a total-body, group workout that utilizes Heart Rate Based Interval Training to help individuals meet their fitness goals.

“I’m gonna try to get everybody (to do an Orangetheory workout). I think the investment is truly something you really can’t find anywhere else, and the way that they (Orangetheory) are all about female empowerment is truly something special.”

Boston’s deal comes with a membership of her own, and VIP classes for her coaches and teammates. More importantly, the partnership allowed Boston and Orangetheory to work together to create a customized workout that enables the star athlete to showcase to members all that goes into her being one of the world’s elite athletes.

In-studio Orangetheory members will see Boston appear on screens as she leads and instructs participants through a specific part of the training.

The workout is called “Shot Clock.”

“There are a lot of things that go into the Aliyah Boston workout (Shot Clock),” Boston told For The Win. “Things that I did in the off-season to prepare me for last year — some agility drills, some medicine ball workouts, and some core workouts. They (teammates) definitely might hate me but it’s gonna be so fun. It’s gonna be a party.”

South Carolina women’s basketball players, coaches and anyone else with interest in taking the “Shot Clock” workout can do so beginning on Thursday, November 10th at participating Orangetheory studios nationwide.

WNBA superstar Sabrina Ionescu joined College GameDay at Oregon, stole the show and made some bold picks

Sabrina Ionescu was the perfect guest picker for College GameDay

It’s Saturday morning during the autumn season, which means college football is in the air. Equally as important — College GameDay is here, and the absolute perfect celebrity picker showed up in Oregon to make some picks.

WNBA superstar Sabrina Ionescu took the College GameDay set in Eugene by storm and stole the show as she did so many times on that campus during her time as a Duck. Her first dagger? She’s got the Syracuse Orange upsetting the Clemson Tigers in Death Valley.

“I play in New York, I have to rep my state and I’m going with the BIG upset — SYRACUSE!” Ionescu said with enthusiasm as the only one to take the Orange.

Syracuse did upset No. 2 ranked Clemson back in 2013, and there’s a chance the undefeated Orange (6-0) could do the same against (7-0) Clemson despite the Tigers being favored by two touchdowns.

Ionescu wasn’t done.

In Eugene, on campus and repping some sweet Oregon gear, who do you think she could have possibly been picking in Saturday’s big showdown between No. 9 UCLA and No. 10 Oregon?

Well, the Oregon pick was obvious, but she jazzed it up by leading the pro-duck crowd in chanting out the lyrics of “Shout” in unison before taking the Ducks “BY A MILLION.”

As always, an A+ showing from Sabrina on the big stage.

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WNBA star and Notre Dame great Skylar Diggins-Smith announces pregnancy

Congratulations!

Congratulations are in order for legendary Notre Dame basketball star [autotag]Skylar Diggins-Smith[/autotag] who announced on Monday that she’s pregnant with her second child.  Diggins-Smith currently stars for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and received All-WNBA First Team honors for the fourth time in her career last season and was also named to the All-Star team.

Diggins-Smith missed the 2019 WNBA season after giving birth to her first son.

The former Fighting Irish star who helped guide Notre Dame to three Final Four appearances and two national championship game appearances in her four years on campus.

Diggins-Smith is married to former Notre Dame football player Daniel Smith who played in all 13 games of the memorable 2012 season for the Irish.

Congratulations to the couple on the announcement!

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A’ja Wilson just had one of the most decorated years in basketball we’ve ever seen and here are all her awards

A’ja Wilson just keeps on winning

Michael Jordan in 1992. Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994. Breanna Stewart in 2018. LeBron James in 2012.

Those are some players who had some of the most decorated years in basketball that we’ve ever seen. They absolutely racked up awards. MVP’s, championship trophies, gold medals, defensive player of the year awards. You name it and they’ve got them.

A’ja Wilson just joined that class herself with the season she had in 2022. She won her first WNBA Finals a couple of weeks ago. Then, immediately after, she went over to Australia and won another gold medal. 

Wilson has had quite the year. Here’s a quick list of everything she won in this 2022 campaign.

It’s more than most players can ever hope for in their careers.

The best takes and the sharpest bets on all the hoops storylines you need to know. Sign up for our Layup Lines newsletter, hitting your inbox on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

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Kim Mulkey’s lack of compassion for Brittney Griner shouldn’t surprise you because she’s already shown us exactly who she is

Kim Mulkey’s response on Brittney Griner is more disappointing than it is surprising

Brittney Griner’s wrongful detainment in Russia has truly revealed how much she means to so many people.

She’s loved, she’s idolized, she’s adored. Everyone has kind things to say about the sort of person she is. They’re constantly rooting for her safe return home and, with every passing day, the general public questions more and more why it hasn’t happened yet.

None of that applies to her former head coach at Baylor, Kim Mulkey, who doesn’t seem to see Brittney Griner as more than a career stepping stone.

She has nothing good to say about her former player. She has no words of encouragement for her family or a kind sentiment to share to the public. In fact, apparently, she has nothing to say at all.

Mulkey, now LSU’s coach, was asked about Griner’s situation in a recent press conference this week. The reporter, Cory Diaz, noted that he hadn’t heard anything from her on the Griner front which, you know, is a reasonable question considering the fact that Mulkey coached her for four years at Baylor.

What seemed to catch everyone off guard was the fact that Mulkey didn’t have anything to say.

“Diaz: I wanted to get your thoughts on the Brittney Griner situation. I don’t think I’ve seen anything from you on that…

Mulkey: And you won’t. I’ll answer the first one for you.”

There you have it, folks. We won’t hear from Mulkey on Griner. Not a peep. Nothing at all despite the fact that Griner brought her an NCAA championship in a season where they amassed a 40-0 record together.

And what a shame that is. It’s truly a tragedy to see a coach stoop to such a low level when it comes to one of her former players.

What makes this worse is that Baylor’s current coach, Nicki Collen, showed nothing but grace when asked about Griner.

“Those that have been around me know I get pretty emotional…I think BG, first of all, is human first. I think this is a human rights issue. No one’s saying she didn’t make a mistake. None of us are perfect. But I guess I would wanna know if I did something and was stuck in a foreign country, what it was, what it wasn’t. I think we all know that 10 years is a long time. I see her as a mother, as a sister, as a spouse, as a daughter, as an unbelievable ambassador for the game of basketball.”

That’s how easy it is. This isn’t her player. She has nothing to do with the situation. But kindness doesn’t cost a thing and Collen seems able to offer up plenty of it. We can’t say the same for Mulkey.

I’d love to call this surprising, but that would be a lie. It’s not shocking. It shouldn’t catch anyone off guard. This is just who Kim Mulkey is and who she always has been. She’s shown us that at every turn.

After all, this is the same coach that barred her team from talking about their sexuality, according to Griner herself. The former Baylor star revealed how Mulkey and the program, overall, weren’t welcoming to gay athletes during her time there.

That’s not something a loving coach would do. Those aren’t things a loving coach would ask of one of their players, no matter what their skill level is. It’s not something a program that actually cared about its students would allow.

On top of that, this isn’t the first time Mulkey has been silent on important issues — particularly when it comes to Black players. After George Floyd was killed by police officers in 2020, Mulkey had nothing to say while the rest of the sports world spoke out against police violence. Chloe Jackson, a former player, called her out on it. Yet, still. Nothing has changed. History is just repeating itself.

So, yes. Mulkey is sincere in her apathy. She’s committed in her silence. She genuinely doesn’t care about Brittney Griner or her well-being. The truth is she never actually has and it’s been plain to see for years.

It’s not surprising. If anything, it’s disappointing. Coaches are supposed to be leaders. They’re the ones who their athletes are supposed to look to for guidance and wisdom. And when it comes to their former athletes, they show compassion. Any good coach you’ve ever had is just one phone call away.

Yet here Kim Mulkey is with one of her former players wrongfully detained in a foreign country, and her only response is still hostility.

I’m sure her new recruits at LSU are going to love this.

Arella Guirantes dominating in FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup

Former Rutgers women’s basketball star Arella Guirantes is leading all scorers at the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup

Former Rutgers women’s basketball star Arella Guirantes is playing for team Puerto Rico and putting on a show at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.

Group play has wrapped up at the World Cup and the Puerto Rico star is leading all scorers with 18 points per game. Guirantes is playing for her national team for the first time and making an immediate impact. Puerto Rico finished in dead last in their last two international competitions, but the former Scarlet Knight has led them to two victories and the team’s first ever trip to the World Cup Quarterfinals.

The former Scarlet Knight also leads all players in total points with 90. Guirantes has twice scored over 25 points – once recording a double-double with 10 rebounds and the other falling just short with nine boards.

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The 24-year-old rising star is honored to represent her heritage and the country where her grandfather is from. She spoke to media about this when first joining the team:

“It’s a great experience. It’s a blessing to finally put on this jersey,” said Guirantes. “I was just thinking before the [Belgium] game. It kind of hit me right during the national anthems. I felt like I had more pride wearing this jersey and I owed it to more than just myself to play hard.”

“So, it’s a beautiful feeling. It’s great to play with these girls and be coached by these coaches here, and I’m just grateful for the experience.”

Prior to joining Puerto Rico, Guirantes was drafted in the 2021 WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks and is currently a free agent. In her senior season with Rutgers, she averaged 21.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 2.2 steals per game and was named to the First Team All-Big Ten team.

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Seattle legend Sue Bird to raise 12th Man Flag

Seattle legend Sue Bird to raise 12th Man Flag

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One of the most time-honored traditions in Seahawks history is the raising of the 12th Man Flag in the South Endzone before home games. It is usually by a former player, a local celebrity, or a Seattle sports legend. In Week 1 against the Broncos, former Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright had the honors.

To kick off Week 3, the Seahawks are sticking with local sports legends with Sue Bird to raise the flag.

For twenty years, Sue Bird was not only the face of the Seattle Storm, but establishing a legacy of one of the best WNBA players of all time. Bird finally retired this fall, but her legacy will be in the collective memory of Seattle fans for decades to come.

Sue Bird finishes her professional basketball career as the WNBA’s all time assists leader and 7th all time in scoring. Bird claimed four WNBA championships, five Olympic gold medals, and four FIBA World Cup titles.

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