Sky guard Marina Mabrey reflects on three seasons with Wings: ‘Dallas believed in me’

In her first season with the Sky, Mabrey entered Friday averaging career highs across the board, putting up 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 29.8 minutes.

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Chicago Sky guard Marina Mabrey warms up for the team’s WNBA basketball game against the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley) ORG XMIT: ILEH101

Erin Hooley, AP Photos

ARLINGTON — Sky guard Marina Mabrey was busier than usual during warmups Friday.

Her typical pregame routine was coupled with a handful of reunions. From the Wings’ broadcast team to security guards and fans who descended from the stands to the court for an autograph or a photo, Mabrey heard, ‘‘Welcome back,’’ over and over again.

Reflecting on her three seasons with the Wings, Mabrey smiled before sharing a story.

‘‘I look at the day I walked in here,’’ Mabrey told the Sun-Times before scoring 16 points in the Sky’s 104-89 victory. ‘‘I was at the hotel and thought, ‘This is crazy.’ It was my second year the last time I was at that hotel. I didn’t know if I was going to be on the team. I threw up the first workout I ever had here. So I thought about all of that.’’

Looking back on her career was a reminder of how far Mabrey, who won an NCAA championship at Notre Dame, has come. She was drafted by the Sparks in 2019, but the Wings traded a second-round draft pick for her before the 2020 season.

Her growth was immediate. After averaging four points in 11.5 minutes as a rookie with the Sparks, Mabrey’s production more than doubled. During the WNBA’s bubble season in 2020, she averaged 10 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 21.3 minutes.

By her third season with the Wings, Mabrey was running their offense. In three seasons with the Wings, she averaged 12.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists and started 52 of the 85 games she played.

Before this season, she found herself being traded again. This time, she had slightly more control over the circumstances.

‘‘When I wanted to explore a new option and I wanted to come to Chicago, [the Wings] treated me like a family member,’’ Mabrey said. ‘‘They’re like, ‘OK, if that’s what’s going to make you happy, that’s what we want.’ ’’

Mabrey’s development with the Wings was impressive enough to former Sky coach/general manager James Wade that he traded four draft picks, including two first-rounders and the rights to swap a third, for her.

Even after he resigned from the Sky, Wade defended the trade because of the player he thinks Mabrey will continue to develop into.

‘‘She’s an All-Star,’’ Wade told the Sun-Times in July.

In her first season with the Sky, Mabrey entered Friday averaging career highs across the board, putting up 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 29.8 minutes.

‘‘Nobody thought I would be here,’’ she said. ‘‘I don’t even know if I thought that at first. I was the 19th pick. I didn’t know if I was going to stick. I didn’t know if I was going to be athletic enough. I didn’t know what I was going to be able to do. But Dallas believed in me.’’

Parks finding her rhythm

Since the Sky returned from the All-Star break, forward Robyn Parks has found her stride, averaging 6.8 points in 15.8 minutes off the bench.

At 31, Parks is playing her rookie season in the WNBA, similar to guard Rebekah Gardner last season. When Wade brought Parks in for training camp to compete for a spot on the roster, he noted her experience and scoring prowess overseas.

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