INDIANAPOLIS – Riding the excitement of top draft picks each of the past two seasons, the Indiana Fever open training camp for their 20th WNBA season on Sunday, May 5 when they workout at 11:00 a.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Third-year head coach Pokey Chatman welcomes a roster that includes the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2018, sharpshooter Kelsey Mitchell, and the No. 3 overall pick of just a month ago, 6-foot-7 center Teaira McCowan. Indiana’s core of starters includes six-time All-Star Candice Dupree, the eighth-leading scorer and rebounder in league history, and fifth-year post player Natalie Achonwa whose resurgent 2018 season was one of the most improved in the WNBA.
A welcome return in 2019 is veteran guard Shenise Johnson who was averaging a career-high 11.3 points per game midway through the 2017 season when she sustained a torn ACL to her left knee. Combined with her return, though, is the loss of another standout rookie from 2018, No. 8 overall draft pick Victoria Vivians, whose 65 3-pointers were second among league rookies behind Mitchell. Vivians tore the ACL in her right knee while playing in Israel in March.
The third rookie from last year’s draft haul is local standout and former Indiana Miss Basketball, Stephanie Mavunga (2013, Brownsburg HS). The 6-3 post player was one of the club’s top rebounders last season before missing six games with an ankle injury. Overseas in Russia, however, she was the league’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, and could be primed to join Achonwa, Dupree and McCowan in a vastly improved Fever interior.
Additional draft picks who will make their WNBA debut in Indiana’s camp include North Carolina guard Paris Kea and Georgia forward Caliya Robinson.
Other top returning players include fourth-year guard Tiffany Mitchell, who joined Kelsey Mitchell in workouts with USA Basketball last fall, point guard Erica Wheeler, forwards Erica McCall and Asia Taylor, and reserve center Kayla Alexander. Veteran forward and defensive specialist Betnijah Laney was signed as a free agent in February.
Another former Indiana Miss Basketball, Bria Goss (2011, Ben Davis HS), enters her first WNBA training camp as one of the club’s training camp invitees. She is joined by Crystal Bradford, a former first-round draft pick of the L.A. Sparks.
The Fever play a three-game preseason schedule with road-and-home games against Chicago – at Wintrust Arena, May 14, and at home as part of the Fever’s annual Choices for Champions educational event on May 16. The preseason concludes at Dallas, May 19.
Indiana opens its regular season with road games at New York and Connecticut, May 24 and May 28, respectively, before hosting a pair of Anniversary Week games that celebrate the 20th season of the franchise.
Playing on the same date of the first game in team history, the Fever host the Liberty on Saturday, June 1 (7:00 p.m.) for a 20th Anniversary Celebration delivered by Papa John’s. Six days later, the Fever welcome the Dallas Wings on Friday, June 7 (7:00 p.m.), the same date on which the franchise was founded in 1999.