SEATTLE STORM

Storm player makes WNBA All-Star team that will play US Olympians

Jul 3, 2024, 10:08 PM | Updated: Jul 4, 2024, 4:23 pm

Seattle Storm Nneka Ogwumike...

Nneka Ogwumike of the Seattle Storm reacts after defeating the Indiana Fever on May 22, 2024. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese will team up on the WNBA All-Star team that will include Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike to play against the U.S. Olympic team led by A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart.

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The pair of remarkable rookies were selected Tuesday by a combination of votes from the media, players and fans as well as the league’s 12 coaches to play in the game in Phoenix on July 20. It’s the 20th All-Star Game in the league’s history.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been her teammate before, even at USA Basketball. I know people will be really excited about it, but I hope it doesn’t take away from everyone else,” Clark said. “This is a huge accomplishment for everybody on Team USA and everyone on Team WNBA. They all deserve the same praise. I don’t want it to take away from any of that and be the focal point of All-Star weekend because that’s not fair to them.”

Clark was the leading vote-getter from the fans, receiving 700,735 with her Indiana teammate Aliyah Boston finishing second 72,000 votes behind. Reese was fifth with 381,518 votes. Wilson and Stewart were third and fourth. Wilson garnered 607,300 votes and Stewart had 424,135.

Clark and Reese have been a boon for the WNBA in ratings, merchandise sales and attendance. They are also playing well on the court with Clark third in assists with 6.9 and Reese leading the WNBA in rebounds at 11.4.

“They just told me I’m an All-Star. I’m just so happy,” an emotional Reese said after her Sky beat the Atlanta Dream. “I know the work I’ve put in. Coming into this league so many people doubted me and didn’t think my game would translate and I wouldn’t be the player I was in college, or better, or would be worse, or wouldn’t be where I am right now. But I trust the process and I’m thankful I dropped to No. 7 (pick in the draft) and was able to come to Chicago.”

It’s the eighth time that two rookies have been on the team. The last was Shoni Schimmel and Chiney Ogwumike in 2014.

Joining the rookies on the WNBA team were DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones of Connecticut, Allisha Gray of Atlanta, Dearica Hamby of Los Angeles, Jonquel Jones of New York, Kayla McBride of Minnesota, Kelsey Mitchell of Indiana, Seattle’s Ogwumike and Arike Ogunbowale of Dallas.

Ogunbowale was the MVP of the 2021 All-Star game which featured the same format of the U.S. team playing a league All-Star team. The WNBA team won that game.

“She’s had an incredible season to this point,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said of McBride. “She’s doing everything for us, so deserving of this All-Star nod.”

The U.S. team, which will be going for an eighth consecutive Olympic gold medal in Paris later this month, also features Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi. The pair of Phoenix players will get a chance to play in front of their home crowd in the exhibition game. Taurasi will be vying for a record sixth Olympic gold medal.

Three of Wilson’s Las Vegas teammates — Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young — are on the U.S. team. Gray was on the Tokyo Olympic squad while Plum and Young both helped the Americans win the inaugural 3-on-3 gold medal.

Other returners from the Tokyo Games include Napheesa Collier and Seattle Storm star Jewell Loyd. Several first-time Olympians will join the team with Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu and Kahleah Copper. All three played on the American team that won the World Cup in Australia in 2022.

Every player chosen for either the U.S. team or the WNBA squad is considered an All-Star making this Taurasi’s 11th time in the game. She’s now alone in second behind Sue Bird for most all time. Bird was a 13-time All-Star.

The league will have a 3-point challenge and skill contest the night before the All-Star game.

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