Sky select Kayana Traylor with the 23rd overall pick in WNBA Draft, Kseniya Malashka with the 35th

Traylor and Malashka will be competing for a spot on James Wade’s roster when training camp opens April 30 in Deerfield.

SHARE Sky select Kayana Traylor with the 23rd overall pick in WNBA Draft, Kseniya Malashka with the 35th
The Sky selected Virginia Tech’s Kayana Traylor in the WNBA Draft.

The Sky selected Virginia Tech’s Kayana Traylor in the WNBA Draft.

Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The wait since the Sky’s last draft selection felt like an eternity.

In reality, it was two years ago when coach/general manager James Wade and the Sky had their last draft pick before Monday night.

And with the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, the Sky selected Virginia Tech guard Kayana Traylor, the team’s first selection since taking Natasha Mack in the second round in 2021 with the 16th pick.

Wade spoke about seven players he was considering with the 23rd and 35th overall picks. Ultimately, he said Traylor was someone whose maturity stood out. As the second round ticked by, Wade said the Sky staff was just hoping she would still be available.

“Her qualities as a player seem to be the same she has as a person and a teammate,” Wade said. “The second round was really slow for us. We were just waiting to hear her name called. Once we got to 20, we thought ‘OK, we just have three more picks.’ If teams could just overlook her three more times, we thought we were in a good position.”

Over the last two years, Wade has dealt four of the Sky’s six draft picks from the 2022 and 2023 classes. In doing so, he acquired guards Dana Evans in 2021 and Julie Allemand in 2022. This year, he brought in guard Marina Mabrey in a trade that sent the fifth overall pick to the Dallas Wings, who used it to select UConn shooting guard Lou Lopez Senechal.

Wade is working with virtually a new roster in 2023 aside from returning starter Kahleah Copper and reserves Evans and Ruthy Hebard. In free agency, he added backcourt depth with Courtney Williams to go along with Mabrey.

After losing their longest-tenured player, four-time All-Star Courtney Vandersloot, the Sky are without a floor general. Instead, it’s likely that they’ll use a rotation at the point with Mabrey and Evans.

Wade didn’t bring Traylor in with the expectation that she’ll be an option at point guard. He said she has the capabilities to run an offense, but he sees her as another off-ball guard option.

“She doesn’t waste possessions with bad shot selection,” Wade said. “She’s either at the rim or relocating for threes, which we really liked.”

Traylor spent her first three college seasons at Purdue, where she averaged 8.8 points, 3.5 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 27.6 minutes per game. She played her last two seasons at Virginia Tech, helping lead the Hokies to their first Final Four appearance.

But Wade said it wasn’t Traylor’s tournament performance that landed her on the Sky’s draft board.

“Of course, [her tournament performance] stood out,” Wade said. “But we watched her all season.”

With the Sky’s second pick of the night, Wade took forward Kseniya Malashka from Middle Tennessee. As a redshirt senior, Malashka averaged 15.1 points and 5.8 rebounds.

South Carolina’s 2021-22 National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston was selected by the Indiana Fever with the first overall pick, as expected. Maryland’s Diamond Miller was selected by the Minnesota Lynx with the second pick, and Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist was picked third by the Wings.

The Sky’s training-camp roster is 16 players deep with the additions of Traylor and Malashka. With 10 spots on Wade’s roster already seemingly spoken for, competition in Deerfield when training camp opens April 30 for the remaining spot will be fierce.

“If they play and take in as much information as fast as they can and continue to work hard, it’ll be a good camp for them,” Wade said.

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