The Sky’s Rebekah Gardner may be a rookie by definition, but her experience says otherwise. Still, 2022 was her first year in the WNBA and Thursday she was named to the 2022 WNBA All-Rookie Team.
Gardner played 10 years overseas where she was largely overlooked by WNBA general managers until the Sky’s James Wade took notice this winter. Wade, who lives in France with his wife Edwige Lawson-Wade and their son Jet during the WNBA offseason, was less than two hours from where Gardner was playing with her club Spar CityLift Girona.
The first time Wade showed up, Gardner said she didn’t have her best game. Still, he came back. The two exchanged phone calls and Wade attended more of her games before signing her prior to her ever attending training camp.
Wade knew Gardner had much to add to his reigning championship roster.
This year, Gardner has been more than a role player. She’s been the first person off the bench with Azurá Stevens, maintaining the Sky’s fluid style of play and stifling opponents on the defensive end.
In her first season with the Sky Gardner averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 steals in 21.7 minutes per game during the regular season. She recorded her first WNBA double-double against the Los Angeles Sparks in front of friends and family in July.
Gardner joins Washington Mystics forward/center Shakira Austin, Indiana Fever forward/center Queen Egbo, Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard and Indiana Fever forward NaLyssa Smith.
Howard was named rookie of the year after averaging 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.59 steals in 31.3 minutes in 34 games (all starts) this season.