The first preseason contest of the WNBA’s 17th season tips off Thursday night, and 14 University of Tennessee graduates currently are listed on team rosters around the league.
There are 12 teams in the WNBA, and there is at least one Lady Vol playing for eight of them. The only teams that don’t currently have a UT player on the roster are Atlanta, Chicago, Minnesota and San Antonio.
Kamiko Williams, the No. 15 pick in the recent WNBA Draft, has embarked on her professional career with the New York Liberty. The 5-11 product of Clarksville, Tenn. (Northeast H.S.) joins former UT standouts Kelley Cain and Loree Moore in the Big Apple under the direction of head coach and general manager Bill Laimbeer. The former NBA star is in his first year in New York but guided the Detroit Shock to WNBA titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008.
Williams averaged 7.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while helping lead the Lady Vols to the 2013 SEC regular season championship and a berth in the NCAA Elite 8. She made the All-Oklahoma City Regional Team because of her play in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games.
Tamika Catchings, 2012 WNBA Finals MVP, begins her 12th season with the defending WNBA champion Indiana Fever. She is joined on the roster by Shyra Ely-Gash, who missed the 2012 season due to injury. Former Lady Vol assistant Mickie DeMoss is back for her second year on the coaching staff, which is led by Lin Dunn, who earned her master’s degree at Tennessee after attending UT-Martin as an undergrad.
All-WNBA First-Teamer Candace Parker leads Los Angeles into the 2013 campaign, her sixth with the Sparks. Nicky Anosike is once again on the L.A. roster as she enters her sixth season in the league.
Kara Lawson, recipient of the WNBA’s 2012 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, begins her 11th season in the league and is in her third with the Connecticut Sun. Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Alexis Hornbuckle is onboard for her second year with the Mercury and sixth season overall in the league as No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner makes her pro debut with the squad.
Glory Johnson and Vicki Baugh are back in Tulsa, where draft pick Skylar Diggins added an immediate buzz to the squad. Johnson made the 2012 WNBA All-Rookie Team a year ago, while Baugh was released on May 13 after an injury limited her availability. After sitting out the season, Baugh still is considered a rookie.
In Seattle, Shekinna Stricklen returns for her second year with the Storm. Former Lady Vol assistant Nancy Darsch continues to serve in the same role for the Storm.
Shannon Bobbitt and Michelle Snow are listed on the roster of the Washington Mystics after spending the 2012 season there. Snow is in her 12th year in the WNBA, while Bobbitt is enjoying her fifth season.
The WNBA will open its 17th regular season as part of WNBA Tip-Off 2013 presented by Boost Mobile on Friday, May 24, when Catchings leads the Fever into San Antonio to face the Silver Stars. WNBA Tip-Off 2013 presented by Boost Mobile will feature a total of six games including a nationally televised doubleheader on ESPN2 on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, featuring the Mystics at the Shock (3 p.m. ET) followed by the Sky at the Mercury (5 p.m. ET).