The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Column | Fresh faces, new opportunities await the Chicago Sky

In a few short weeks, the WNBA kicks off its 2024 campaign. This upcoming season has been one of the most hyped seasons for the organization because of all the discourse surrounding the immense talent coming into the pros. While the WNBA has been around for 27 years now, the excitement for it is finally reaching its peak.

Millions of viewers tuned in to watch women’s college basketball this year, and conversations around this audience translating into higher viewership for the WNBA have flooded social media and news outlets. On April 15, the WNBA hosted its annual draft and peaked at 3.09 million viewers, according to ESPN.

That same day, three youthful and very talented women heard their names get called to be a part of the Chicago Sky, a team that has seen years’ worth of successful athletes shine and show their talents at an elite level. The team won the 2021 WNBA championship, and with the three stars the team brought on, there have already been conversations happening around another title coming their way.

The Sky held picks three, seven and 13 in its hands, and a wave of excitement came across Illinois when they announced who would join their roster. With the third pick, the Sky selected a 2024 NCAA championKamilla Cardoso, a 6-foot-7 center from Brazil, who came to the United States at the age of 15 to pursue her basketball career at a higher level. 

Cardoso spent her collegiate career with the South Carolina Gamecocks, who went undefeated in their 2023-24 season. In her final season there, Cardoso averaged 14.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, two assists and 2.5 blocks per game. Her size and overall athleticism will now be in Chicago, and fans are ecstatic to see how she continues her basketball success in the pros.

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Just four picks later, the Sky selected Angel Reese to be part of their team. Reese, a 6-foot-3 forward from LSU who averaged 18.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals and one block per game, is another athlete Chicago fans are dying to see play for their home team. Reese is another individual with a national championship under her belt, so fans are hoping she and Cardoso will maintain that winning energy in this upcoming season.

Cardoso and Reese had been high school and college rivals for years, and now, their competitive natures will be revealed as teammates rather than opponents. Their rebounding skills and point-scoring abilities will be a great addition to the Sky, and not only are fans excited about this, but Cardoso and Reese are excited themselves.

“She’s a great player, I’m a great player, so two great players together,” Cardoso said to the media after she got drafted. “No one’s going to get no rebounds on us.” 

Similarly, Reese touched on her familiarity with Cardoso and the great things they can achieve on the same team.

“If I miss a defensive assignment, she’s going to be there, and if she misses a defensive assignment, I’m going to be there,” Reese said in the Sky’s introductory press conference. “We’re going to be fighting over rebounds, I know that. I mean, I love that, though, being able to go in and battle … I’m a competitor, and I know she’s a competitor too, so we just want to come in and just soak everything in but also just be impactful as best as we can.” 

Not only did the Sky pick up two talented bigs, but they also landed Brynna Maxwell, a 6-foot guard from Gonzaga, for the 13th pick in the draft. In her final season with the Bulldogs, Maxwell averaged 14.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. Her scoring abilities, plus the defensive efforts from Cardoso and Reese, are components of the game that Chicago fans will look forward to witnessing. 

The Sky will be led by Teresa Weatherspoon, a former WNBA legend herself, who led the New York Liberty to the league’s first finals in 1997 and 1999. While the team ended with a record of 18-22 this past season, things are looking bright with the new additions and existing talent

The team’s leading scorer from this past season, guard Kahleah Copper, will likely bring strong leadership skills to the newcomers and can show them a thing or two about the pros. Along with Copper, guard Courtney Williams and guard Marina Mabrey should continue their expertise this season and demonstrate how it’s done to the rookies.

While there are tons of talented women in basketball, there are only 12 teams in the WNBA, leaving little room for athletes to demonstrate their skills. With all the discussion over women’s sports, there’s hope that efforts will be made to introduce even more teams to the league

The regular season for the Sky begins May 15 against the Dallas Wings. The team’s first home game is on Saturday, May 25, and given all the commotion around the team, there’s no doubt that fans will head to Wintrust Arena to show their support for the promising rookies and experienced veterans. 



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About the Contributor
Tess Eken
Tess Eken, Assistant Sports Editor
Hi everyone! My name is Tess and I’m currently a junior studying communications with a minor in Spanish. I joined The Daily Illini because I wanted to combine my love for sports with my love for writing, so I get the best of both worlds here! Outside of journalism, I love baking and spending time with my friends and family. If you have any questions or just want to talk sports with me, feel free to email me using the button below. I-L-L!
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