The Beautiful Faces Of WNBA Stars Off The Court
The best in the world at what they do, the women of the WNBA put their game faces on whenever they step on the basketball court. It takes a great deal of talent and dedication to get to this level. After playing for top women’s basketball teams in the NCAA, these ladies were among the first picks in the WNBA draft. Off the court, these talented players can let their hair down and show their bright personalities. Here’s what some of the most talented players of the WNBA look like when they’re not wearing a jersey.
Point guard for the Las Vegas Aces, Kelsey Plum was the first overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft by the San Antonio Stars, which were later renamed Las Vegas Aces when they moved the team to Sin City. In 2019, Plum led the Aces to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
In college, Plum was a force to be reckoned with. She broke the NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball all-time scoring record, sinking 3,397 points. After sitting out the 2020 season due to injury, Plum is expected to be healthy and back on the court in 2021.
A shooting guard for the Indiana Fever, Victoria Vivians joined the WNBA after an outstanding college career playing for the Mississippi Bulldogs. While playing for the Bulldogs, Vivians also earned her degree in Human Development Family Sciences.
Vivians proved she was ready for the WNBA by coming into her rookie year in peak condition. She’s a sharpshooter from the 3-point line, hitting 65 three-pointers in her rookie year while also being a top rebounder and scorer for the Fever.
Point guard Kia Nurse joined the WNBA in 2018, drafted by the New York Liberty. Nurse was strong in her rookie year and became the third Canadian to play in an All-Star Game. She’s also played for Team Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Before joining the WNBA, nearly 50 colleges and universities were interested in having Nurse join their basketball program. She ended up playing for the renowned UConn women’s basketball team under coach Geno Auriemma. She later admitted it had been her dream to play for UConn since the fourth grade!
Skylar Diggins-Smith joined the WNBA in 2013, drafted third overall by the Tulsa Shock. Before joining the league, Diggins-Smith played point guard for Notre Dame where she led her team to three consecutive Final Four appearances and two championships.
After playing with the Tulsa Shock (now Dallas Wings) from 2013-2019 she was traded to the Phoenix Mercury. Diggins-Smith has made two WNBA All-Star Game appearances and has a career-high of 35 points in a game.
Power forward and center for the Los Angeles Sparks, Candace Parker was the first overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft. That same year she won the WNBA Most Valuable Player Award for the first time. Parker also has a WNBA Championship title, WNBA Finals MVP Award, and a WNBA All-Star Game MVP Award.
In college, she became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game. Oh yeah, and she also has two Olympic gold medals!
Tayler Hill joined the WNBA in 2013 when she was drafted by the Washington Mystics as the fourth overall pick. The shooting guard has also played for the New York Liberty.
In August 2014, just three months after giving birth to her first child, Hill put the jersey back on – and her game face, too. She came back strong and in 2016 became the starting shooting guard for the Mystics.
Katie Lou Samuelson
After playing for the powerful UConn women’s basketball team, Katie Lou Samuelson was drafted to the WNBA as the 4th overall pick in 2019, selected by the Chicago Sky. She was traded to the Dallas Wings in 2020 and was traded again in 2021 to the Seattle Storm.
The small forward grew up playing basketball with her sisters Bonnie and Karlie, who went on to play for Stanford. Now Katie Lou and Karlie are both playing for the Dallas Wings.
A point guard for the Seattle Storm, Sue Bird was the first overall pick of the 2002 WNBA Draft. She became the starting point guard for the Storm in her rookie season, starting all 32 games.
Bird has had an incredible basketball career, winning four WNBA championships and two NCAA championships playing with UConn. She’s also played basketball overseas in Russia and has been on the Women’s Olympic Basketball Team five times.
Monique Billings was a star athlete in high school and college before being drafted by the Atlanta Dream as the 15th overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft. Dream Coach Nicki Collen even asked Billings to step up and be the leader of the team. Billings told Women’s Hoops World, “It’s a challenge, but I like a challenge.”
Before joining the professional league she played college ball for UCLA where she started 34 of 35 games. Billings has also played for the Women’s Korean Basketball League
On the court, Betnijah Laney is a fierce competitor. Shooting guard and small forward for the Atlanta Dream, Laney started her WNBA career in 2015. She was originally drafted by the Chicago Sky but bounced around to the Connecticut Suns, Indiana Fever, and spent a couple of years playing overseas before heading to Atlanta. She was named the 2020 WNBA Most Improved Player.
Laney’s mother was also a basketball player and got her into the sport when she was 10 years old. In high school, she was named a McDonald’s All-American. After graduating she went to Rutgers to play college ball.
Born and raised in Detroit, Aerial Powers played basketball for Michigan State University where she became the first Michigan State freshman to be named to the All-Big Ten First Team. Powers was drafted to the Dallas Wings in 2016 as the fifth overall pick.
In 2018 Powers was drafted to the Washington Mystics where she plays small forward and shooting guard now. Outside of the WNBA, Powers has an endorsement deal with Nike.
Kaila Charles was the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 WNBA draft. In her rookie year, Charles played 21 games and started in seven of them as shooting guard and small forward for the Connecticut Sun. Born and raised in Maryland, Charles played for the University of Maryland, College Park, where she proved herself to be a star player before going to the big show.
Athleticism is in her blood, as her mother Ruperta Charles is an Olympic athlete, competing in the 100-meter dash at the 1984 Summer Olympics. Charles’ sister is also a track athlete and her brother Akil plays basketball in Nova Scotia.
Australian Alanna Smith is #11 on the Phoenix Mercury. Smith earned a degree at Stanford University in 2019 while playing for the women’s basketball team over four seasons. After graduating she was drafted in the first round of the 2019 WNBA draft.
The 24-year-old goes to the beach or the mountains in her off-time… whenever that is. Outside of the WNBA, Smith also played in the Women’s Korean Basketball League. She told Pick and Roll, “Obviously, the language barrier was very difficult. I had a translator, but my teammates were very warm and welcoming. I love traveling and discovering new cities and culture.” After suffering a leg injury, Smith is working on getting back to full health.
Before becoming a power forward for the Chicago Sky in 2018, Gabby Williams had an impressive college basketball career. She played forward for the dominant UConn women’s basketball team, winning back-to-back national titles. Not only is she a sharpshooter, but Williams is a strong defensive player, too. In 2017 she was given two awards for her defense, from the AAC and the WBCA.
Williams has citizenship in both America and France. When she’s not playing for the WNBA, she’s overseas playing for the Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomération club, where each team is allowed to have two Americans. In France, she lives near the beach, where she loves working out. She also aims to shoot 500 baskets a day.
Power forward for the Las Vegas Aces, A’ja Wilson joined the WNBA in 2018 and was named Rookie of the Year after being the 1st overall draft pick. In college, Wilson was a star player for the South Carolina Gamecocks. While playing in the NCAA, she won a record three-straight SEC Player of the Year awards and became the leading scorer in all of South Carolina women’s basketball history.
Wilson comes from a tight-knit family who loves the game of basketball. Her father was a professional basketball player in Europe and her boyfriend Josh Cunnigham is a professional basketball player, too. Outside of the WNBA, she also plays in a league in China.
Kristine Anigwe caught the attention of the WNBA while playing college ball for Cal where she led the team in points and rebounds. In the WNBA, Anigwe played for the Connecticut Sun and Dallas Wings before being traded to the Los Angeles Sparks, all in just two years.
Born in London, Anigwe’s parents are Nigerian and raised her and her siblings in Phoenix, Arizona. She spends time in both the UK and the US.
Number 24 on the Minnesota Lynx, Napheesa Collier was the 6th overall pick in the 2019 WNBA draft and was named Rookie of the Year. Before joining the pro ranks, Collier played for UConn where she ranked 3rd in scoring and 4th in rebounds on the winning team.
She grew up in Missouri; her grandfather was a notable lawyer and her brother plays college football. While in the “WNBA bubble” Collier started a podcast with A’ja Wilson, called Tea With A & Phee where they discussed life in the bubble and what’s going on in their personal lives.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Jordin Canada was lucky enough to have a former WNBA coach leading her high school basketball team. Quick with excellent ball-handling skills, Canada proved she had exceptional talent from the get-go and was drafted to the Seattle Storm after college.
Canada was only starting point guard for two games, as Sue Bird was the Storm’s star point guard. Yet in her second year in the WNBA, Canada earned her spot as the starting point guard while Bird underwent knee surgery. Canada finished the 2019 season second in assists and first in steals in the WNBA.
Kiara Leslie was drafted to the Washington Mystics in 2019 as the 10th overall pick. A fierce defensive player, Leslie is able to shut down the opposing team’s lead scorer and disrupt plays.
Standing at six feet, Leslie also contributes to her team in rebounds and blocks. In her rookie year, she started in 10 games for the Mystics, averaging 21.8 minutes a game– a lot of playing time for a rookie. She’s expected to shine on defense in the upcoming season.
American-Australian WNBA player Leilani Mitchell plays point guard and stands at 5’5″. She’s played for a total of 13 professional basketball teams during her career, beginning in 2008. In the WNBA she’s played for the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and her current team, the Washington Mystics.
Although she hasn’t been the starting point guard often, Mitchell has consistently improved throughout her basketball career. She’s the only WNBA player to date to have been awarded the Most Improved Player twice.
Born in 1998, Satou Sabally played basketball for the University of Oregon Ducks. In fact, despite being one season away from eligibility, in February 2020, Sabally announced that she would be going into the 2020 WNBA draft.
This was because she was draft-eligible since she had reached the minimum age to play professionally at the age of 22, just after the draft. Sabally went on to play professionally for the Dallas Wings. In her rookie season, she was named to the 2020 AP All-Rookie team.
Glory Johnson is a Montenegrin who was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She attended the Webb School of Knoxville before going on to play basketball for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols. She was then selected in the first round of the 2012 WNBA Draft.
Currently, she plays the forward position for the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA. On top of playing professionally for the WNBA, she also represents Montenegro on their international team.
An American-born French basketball player, Bria hartley was born in 1992 and played as point guard for the UConn women’s basketball team. During her time there, she managed to help her team win back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014.
Then, in the 2014 WNBA draft, she was taken seventh overall by the Seattle Storm. During the same drafting period, she was immediately traded to the Washington Mystics. Today, she plays for the Phoenix Mercury.
Eight-time all-star Seimone Augustus currently plays for the Los Angeles Sparks and the U.S. national team. She’s been one of the most recognizable faces in the WNBA since being picked up in the 2006 WNBA Draft.
Augustus has been a basketball star since she was a kid, telling Into the Gloss, “When I was around 10 I started playing on boys’ teams and I dunked on some kid in my first game—after that the gym was packed for every game.”
Born in 1990, Nneka Ogwumike is a Nigerian-American basketball player who was drafted number one overall during the 2012 WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks. Not long after signing with the Sparks, Nneka Ogwumike also went on to sign an endorsement deal with Nike, which made her financially successful.
In 2016, not only did she play for the WNBA Finals champions, but she was also named the WNBA MVP for the 2016 season. Furthermore, she was elected President of the WNBA Players Association.
The Minnesota Lynx were lucky to sign Lexie Brown, the former University of Maryland and Duke University player, in 2019. Hailing from Orlando, the shooting star earned a career-high 21 points when the Lynx played the Los Angeles Sparks the same year she signed with the team. She also hit a season-high 5 3-pointers during that game.
She wants to stick with the sport even when she’s done playing it. “After I retire from basketball, I would love to have a position where I could use statistics to help teams make decisions,” she told Into the Gloss.
Elena Delle Donne
Elena Delle Donne played basketball throughout her life, although showed her true potential playing for the Delaware Blue Hens from 2009 to 2013. After graduating, she was drafted in the 2013 WNBA draft as the second overall pick by the Chicago Sky.
While playing for the Sky, she helped lead her team to the 2014 finals where they were unfortunately beaten by the Phoenix Mercury. She was then traded to the Washington Mystics and was a part of their first-ever championship in their history in 2019. In both 2015 and 2019, she won WNBA Most Valuable Player.
Back-to-back NCAA championships star Stefanie Dolson has been playing in the WNBA since the 2014 draft when she was picked by the Washington Mystics. Today, she’s with the Chicago Sky.
In college, Dolson played center for the UConn women’s basketball team. In 2015, she had a dominant performance, scoring 18 points and 12 rebounds in the season opener against the Connecticut Sun. Dolson has also played in Russia, Turkey, and China!
Kalani Brown was born into a basketball family! She’s the daughter of the former NBA champion with the Boston Celtics, P. J. Brown, and her mother was an assistant high school basketball coach.
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Brown, a center for the Atlanta Dream, has racked up plenty of awards during her professional and college career, including being named an NCAA All-American by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association after the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Natalie Achonwa was born in Toronto, Canada, where she began playing basketball in her youth. Standing at a whopping 6 feet 3 inches, she was a natural at the sport and went on to play on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish women’s basketball team.
In college, her team made four Final Four appearances and three National Championship appearances. In the 2014 WNBA draft, she was drafted ninth overall by the Indiana Fever, although she sat out her rookie season due to a knee injury. Currently, she plays for the Minnesota Lynx.
By the age of 13, Amanda Zahui was a part of the 16-and-under Swedish national team where she played in the European Championships. She then moved to the United States where she played for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, having an exceptional game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in which she scored 39 points and 29 rebounds in one game.
After school, she was drafted second overall by the Tulsa Shock when she was 21 years old. Now, she plays for the Los Angeles Sparks.
Sydney Carter played college basketball at Texas A&M University. During her time there, she is credited with helping the team win the NCAA title. At the 2012 WNBA draft, Carter was selected in the third round by the Chicago Sky.
In 2013, she signed a training camp contract with the Atlanta Dream, however, she was unfortunately cut before the beginning of the competing season. She then found her place with the Connecticut Sun. Currently, Carter is a free agent in the WNBA.
Kayla McBride was a shooting guard for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and helped the team make four consecutive Final Four appearances and three NCAA championship appearances.
After her college career, she was drafted third overall by the San Antonio Stars in the 2014 WNBA draft. Although she played for several other teams, these days she plays for the Minnesota Lynx after signing with them in 2021, following some time as a free agent.
An American basketball player, Jennifer Lacy graduated from Agoura Hills High School in California in 2002. While she ended up playing for Pepperdine, she was also recruited by prominent schools such as Arizona, Washington, and the University of California Santa Barbara.
She showed her talent and skill in college and stands an impressive six feet and 3 inches, weighing 175 pounds. Although she joined the WNBA in 2006 and has played for a number of teams throughout the country.
In 2011, Maya Moore was the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft. She joined the Minnesota Lynx, where she still plays today. That same season, Moore became the first female basketball player to sign a deal with Air Jordan, attesting to her popularity.
Moore has won four WNBA championships and three All-Star Game MVPs throughout her career. She also holds two Olympic gold medals in basketball from 2012 and 2016. In 2019, Moore took a hiatus from basketball.
Since Diana Taurasi joined the WNBA in 2004, she has been chosen for nine WNBA All-Star teams and ten All-WNBA teams. Throughout her career, Taurasi has won three WBNA Championships, three FIBA World Cups, and four Olympic gold medals.
After a game on June 18, 2017, Taurasi became the all-time leading scorer of the WNBA. She is now considered one of the best female basketball players of all time. In February 2021, she signed a two-year deal with the Phoenix Mercury, showing no signs of ending her career.
Brittney Griner’s prosperous career began in high school. In 2009, she was voted the nation’s #1 high school player by Rivals. She joined the WNBA in 2013 when she was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury (where she remains today). From there, things only got better.
Griner became the only WNBA player to block over 500 shots and score over 2,000 points. She received the Best Female Athlete ESPY Award in 2012 and signed a deal with Nike the next year. She also joined the Olympic basketball team for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
When Sylvia Fowles joined the WNBA, she was drafted for the Chicago Sky. In 2015, she sat out at the start of the season and was traded to Minnesota, where she ended up becoming the MVP in the 2015 WNBA Finals.
Fowles still plays for the Minnesota Lynx. Throughout her career, she has averaged 15.8 points across 347 games. She has also played overseas in Russia, Turkey, and China. Off the court, she is studying mortuary science.
American-Hungarian basketball player Courtney Vandersloot has played for both the WNBA and the Turkish Women’s Basketball League (TWBL). On the WNBA, she is a point guard on the Chicago Sky. When she was drafted in 2011, she was named All-Star, and then became All-Star again in 2019.
With 300 assists in one season, Vandersloot holds the WNBA record for most assists per game (9.1). Overall, she has scored over 2,000 points and reached 1,000 assists throughout her career, making her one of the most accomplished female players in history.
Chelsea Gray was taken with the 11th overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun. With the Los Angeles Sparks, she won the WNBA Championship in 2016 and earned three All-Star Awards.
Gray currently plays for the Las Vegas Aces. In 2014, she missed a year due to injury. But she came back with a vengeance and has not stopped since, scoring over 1,200 points throughout her college career alone and over 2,445 overseas.