Chicago Sky embracing their share of WNBA spotlight behind gregarious rookie Angel Reese

CHICAGO — Angel Reese is ensuring some of the glare from the bright spotlight on the WNBA shines squarely on the Chicago Sky.

The Sky are embracing all the attention — led by the gregarious Reese.

The seventh overall draft pick will remind anyone who will listen that there is a group of rookies helping boost soaring WNBA ratings, attendance and revenue, not just the one who plays in Indiana. However, Reese has repeatedly said she has no animosity toward Caitlin Clark and the deserved attention that comes her way, but just wants fans to appreciate the group as a whole.

It has been an impressive start for Reese — and her new team.

“We have so much personality,” Reese said. “It starts with my coaches letting us have free time. That’s the benefit of not being in college anymore — being able to have as much free time, maximizing your 24 hours.”

The spotlight likely will be as bright as it has been this season for the Sky (3-3) when they travel to Indiana on Saturday to play Clark and the Fever (1-8) on ESPN. It will be the first meeting as pros between Reese and her old college rival Clark, the No. 1 pick in the draft.

It also will be big for the Sky as 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso looks like she will make her regular-season debut against Indiana. The center who led undefeated South Carolina to its third NCAA championship likely will return to the lineup following a preseason shoulder injury.

The Sky had announced she would miss at least a month after she was hurt against Minnesota on May 3. Cardoso revealed on a recent Instagram Live that she’s eyeing the Indiana game for her debut.

“When you talk about Kamilla, she’s different,” said first-year Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon. “She can play many different ways. We’ll have an opportunity to have a lot of different offensive sets because she’s a part of it.”

The Sky have been excited to see what Cardoso and Reese can do on the court together.

Chicago hired Weatherspoon as coach in mid-October and promoted Jeff Pagliocca to general manager nearly three weeks later. The new regime did what it could to put itself in position to draft the front court duo.

The Sky dealt 2021 Finals MVP Kahleah Copper to the Phoenix Mercury for four draft picks, including the No. 3 choice this year, in early February. The Sky acquired the No. 8 pick two weeks later from Los Angeles and then traded up a spot with Minnesota.

The early returns on Reese have been encouraging.

The three-time All-American who starred at Maryland and led LSU to the 2023 NCAA championship is playing as well as just about any rookie. She is second to Clark in scoring at 11 points per game and tops in rebounding at 8.2.

Reese was the first rookie in franchise history to score 10 or more in her first five games, a streak that ended when she had six on Thursday in an 83-73 win over the Los Angeles Sparks. And she’s averaging a league-high 4.5 offensive rebounds.

While the Sky clearly have room to grow, for now they’re enjoying the moment and some of the perks that come with it. No one more than Reese.

She celebrated her 22nd birthday among the stars at the Met Gala.

Reese graduated from college, got invited onstage with some teammates at the rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s concert in Chicago and was announced as part-owner of a new professional women’s soccer team. At the concert, Reese insisted her teammates get to go on stage with her. And it was an experience Dana Evans, Diamond DeShields, Michaela Onyenwere and Isabelle Harrison won’t forget.

“I actually love it,” Weatherspoon, a Naismith Hall of Famer who was known to embrace the spotlight as a player in New York. “I love to see them just kind of relax themselves away from the game and enjoy something different — and enjoy people really loving on them. To be getting onstage at a concert, that’s huge. That’s the love that people have for them, and they’re showing it.”

The Sky’s home opener drew a sellout crowd of 9,025 at Wintrust Arena in the South Loop, about five miles from the home of the NBA’s Bulls and NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. And the players are feeling the buzz.

“I keep seeing progression,” Evans said. “I keep seeing steps needed to get to where we want to get to, but I feel like we’re headed in the right direction. We’re going to stay patient and make the most of what we got now. But I feel like one day, Chicago Sky will be playing in the United Center. I feel like that will be even better for women’s basketball, just bring in more fans as well.”



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