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Undrafted Guard Becomes WNBA All-Star MVP
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published August 1, 2019

All-Star MVP Erica Wheeler dedicated her honor to her late mother in emotional speech (William Johnson/T.G.Sportstv1)

The WNBA All-Star Weekend highlighted more events and young talent taking place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. For the first time since 2006, the three-point contest and the skills challenge was featured. The contests commenced on the night before the All-Star Game.

Connecticut Sun star Shekinna Stricklen won the three-point contest, defeating the likes of two-time reigning three-point champion Allie Quigley, Los Angeles Sparks guard Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas Aces star Kayla McBride, and New York Liberty rookie Kia Nurse.

Chicago Sky player Diamond DeShields clinched the skills challenge crown, the competition included Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, Minnesota Lynx guard Odyssey Sims, Connecticut Sun center Jonquel Jones and Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot.

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Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne and Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson earned the highest All-Star fan votes, making them team captains this year. Wilson sustained an ankle injury a week prior to the showcase, Minnesota Lynx rookie Napheesa Collier was her replacement.

This year held several first time All-Stars, including Sims, Deshields and reigning WNBA champion Natasha Howard who played for Team Wilson and Nurse of Team Delle Donne.

Among the All-Star veterans were Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, Candice Dupree of the Indiana Fever, Quigley, Liberty star Tina Charles, and Washington Mystics guard Kristi Toliver.

This was also the first All-Star appearance of Indiana Fever guard Erica Wheeler, who went on to win All-Star MVP with 25 points and seven assists. Wheeler is the first undrafted player in franchise history to become All Star Game MVP.

Team Wilson sprang into action in the early minutes of the All-Star game assisted by threes from Howard and Aces star Liz Cambage. With a nine-point deficit, Griner rallied for Team Delle Donne with two dunks within one regulated minute. Team Wilson remained in control with Sims landing a buzzer-beater from behind the arc, pegging them over Team Delle Donne 39-23.

Chelsea Gray was a starter for Team Wilson, making eight points and 10 assists (William Johnson/T.G.Sportstv1).

Wheeler hit her stride in the second quarter with a mind to compete, landing five three-pointers. By the half, she had 18 points. Los Angeles Sparks stars Gray and Nneka Ogwumike were pitted against each other. Gray dished no-look passes left and right for Team Wilson, ultimately making 10 assists.

Ogwumike rallied for Team Delle Donne in the early minutes of the second half, teaming up with Toliver. Gray, Ogwumike and Toliver competed on court at the same time during the third phase, the trio helped the Sparks win a WNBA championship in 2016. Ogwumike ultimately led team Delle Donne with 22 points. Phoenix Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner found shots for Team Delle Donne, but they remained trailing as the fourth quarter commenced.

Team Wilson guard Diamond DeShields and Odyssey Sims kept the lead out of Team Delle Donne’s grasp. Ogwumike brought Team Delle Donne within three points, but Wheeler edged them out in the final minutes.

Despite losing, Team Delle Donne outrebounded Team Wilson 54-47. Three-pointers gave Team Wilson the victory as they landed 21, eight more than Team Delle Donne.

Categories: Basketball | News (Sports) | Sports
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