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 was 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.
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, coming into her rookie year in peak condition. She’s a sharpshooter from the 3-point line, hitting 65 3FGs 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 to the New York Liberty. Nurse was strong in her rookie year and became the third Canadian to play in an All-Star Game, in 2019. 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 big league, Diggins-Smith played point guard for Notre Dame where she led her team to three consecutive Final Fours 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!
Currently a free agent, 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, and was traded to the Dallas Wings in 2020.
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.
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 to 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 also plays 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 to the Chicago Sky but bounced around to the Connecticut Sun, 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 in 2020, 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, standing 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 have been awarded the Most Improved Player twice, which has never been done in the NBA.