Sky absent among WNBA All-Star starters

For the first time since 2019, the Sky will not have a starter in the All-Star Game.

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The Sky’s Kahleah Copper waves as she is introduced for the WNBA All-Star Game in July 2022 at Wintrust Arena.

The Sky’s Kahleah Copper waves as she is introduced for the WNBA All-Star Game in July 2022 at Wintrust Arena.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

For the first time since 2019, the Sky will not have a starter in the WNBA All-Star Game.

Allie Qugiley and Diamond DeShields represented the Sky in 2019 but were selected as reserves. Quigley ended up starting via coach’s decision for an injured A’ja Wilson.

Wilson, a two-time MVP, and 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart were named captains after leading the 10 starters in votes. The four guards and six frontcourt players selected as starters were voted on by fans, WNBA players and a panel of media members for a weighted score.

Aces guards Jackie Young and Chelsea Gray, Storm guard Jewell Loyd and Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale are the four backcourt starters. Mercury center Brittney Griner, Wings forward Satou Sabally, Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike and Fever rookie Aliyah Boston join Wilson and Stewart as starters in the frontcourt.

In the last two seasons, the Sky have had at least three All-Stars selected.

Kahleah Copper earned back-to-back nods as a reserve, with her first All-Star selection coming in 2021. She joined former teammates Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot, who were selected as starters. In 2022, Parker was the Sky’s only player chosen as a starter but was joined by Copper, Vandersloot and Emma Meesseman, who were selected as reserves.

All-Star voting now shifts to selecting the 12 reserves by the WNBA’s 12 coaches. They will vote for three guards, five frontcourt players and four players regardless of position but can’t select their players. Reserves will be named July 1.

Early in the season, Sky coach/general manager James Wade said he believed Copper has earned recognition as a certified All-Star. Her production has decreased only slightly from last year.

She’s averaging 15.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 31.3 minutes per game. Entering the game Sunday against the Sun, Copper was coming off her two lowest-scoring games of the season, with just eight points against the Mystics on the road and seven against them at home.

Copper is the Sky’s leading All-Star candidate, but guard Marina Mabrey has made a case for her first All-Star nod.

If neither is selected, an unlikely scenario, it will mark the first time in the franchise’s history that it hasn’t had a player represented in an All-Star Game.

Back in familiar territory

Courtney Williams reunited Sunday with many of her 2022 Finals teammates and a fan base she spent five of her eight professional seasons playing in front of.

Williams was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft by the Mercury before being traded to the Sun a month into her rookie season. She averaged 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in her first four seasons.

After playing two seasons in Atlanta following a trade in 2020, she returned to the Sun in 2022 and finished the season with 11.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

She signed with the Sky as an unrestricted free agent in February.

“It felt good [being back],” Williams said. “Those are my dogs. I love seeing them, and I love the fan base. They always show me love every time I come back in the building, so it felt good.”

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