Three local players look to crack Sky’s 11-player roster

Lindsey Pulliam is one of three local products Wade invited to training camp, along with DePaul’s Lexi Held, who was undrafted, and Benet’s Kathleen Doyle, whom the Indiana Fever took in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Iowa.

SHARE Three local players look to crack Sky’s 11-player roster
Lindsey Pulliam became the third Northwestern player drafted when the Atlanta Dream selected her in the third round of the 2021 draft. Since then, she has played for Elazig in the Turkish Basketball League.

Lindsey Pulliam became the third Northwestern player drafted when the Atlanta Dream selected her in the third round of the 2021 draft. Since then, she has played for Elazig in the Turkish Basketball League.

Kamil Krzaczynski/AP

Lindsey Pulliam worked her way through shooting drills on the far end of the Sky’s new practice court at Sachs Recreation Center in Deerfield. Her new teammates slowly trickled out until she was the last player in the gym.

When Sky coach/general manager James Wade contacted the former Northwestern standout about joining his roster on a training-camp contract, Pulliam was on the way home from dinner with her mom. She was on the first flight out of Washington the next day, bound for Chicago.

“Going in, you have to focus on what you can control,” Pulliam said. “Obviously, as players, we don’t make the decisions. All you can do is be you and go out there and work.”

Pulliam is one of three local products Wade invited to training camp, along with DePaul’s Lexi Held, who was undrafted, and Benet’s Kathleen Doyle, whom the Indiana Fever took in the second round of the 2020 draft out of Iowa.

Pulliam became the third Northwestern player drafted when the Atlanta Dream selected her in the third round of the 2021 draft. Since then, she has played for Elazig in the Turkish Basketball League. She watched the WNBA Finals from Turkey, taking in one of the games at 3 a.m., thinking how special it was for Candace Parker to come home and help lead the Sky to their first title.

Wade called Held right after this year’s draft and told her he expected her to come to camp and compete. The new opportunity felt familiar to Held because of the established relationships with some of her new teammates, including Allie Quigley.

“She was super-welcoming when I got here,” Held said. “It made things more comfortable. She reached out before I got here to say she was excited to have me join training camp. You could tell there’s a DePaul family tie there.”

Doyle comes in with the most WNBA experience of the three local players appearing in 18 games for the Fever in 2020. The challenge of cracking Wade’s roster with 14 players competing for two roster spots is significant. All three are approaching the opportunity with a similar mentality to control what they can, including showing up every day ready to compete.

“I know how cutthroat this league is,” Doyle said. “You know your place and have to go out there and make the right play every single time. Confidence is a big thing, too. You have to go into it and be a dog.”

The departures of Diamond DeShields, Stefanie Dolson and Astou Ndour-Fall left the Sky needing another two-way wing player and a post player with size. Whoever comes in and fills DeShields’ minutes needs to be a player who can get out and space the floor, maintain the Sky’s fast-paced offense and defend.

Pulliam, Doyle and Held all are vying for that guard spot.

“These three players meant a lot to the Chicago community,” Wade said. “They’ve exemplified themselves as great student-athletes with a great work ethic. It’s only right that we extend training-camp contracts to them and give them a shot to extend their dream of impacting the Chicago basketball community.”

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