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The Maryland women’s basketball 2021 WNBA preview

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A look at the careers of former Terps ahead of the 2021 season and which games to watch over opening weekend.

The 2021 WNBA regular season begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. and there are many players with ties to Maryland women’s basketball to keep an eye on.

This offseason, one Terp made the transition from the court to the front office.

After 13 years as a player in the WNBA, in February, former Terp Crystal Langhorne retired and joined the Seattle Storm’s front office as the Director of Community Engagement for the Force4Change initiative. Langhorne had a successful career while at Maryland and as a professional player. She was the first in program history to have her jersey hung in the rafters while she was an active player and helped lead the Terps to their 2006 National Championship. Langhorne is also a two-time WNBA champion and a two-time WNBA All-Star.

Here’s a look at some other Terps’ careers in both the NCAA and the WNBA along with some games to watch this opening weekend.

Former Terps who played their whole career at Maryland

Tianna Hawkins, Atlanta Dream

6-foot-3 forward, Maryland Class of 2013

Hawkins was the No. 6 overall pick by the Seattle Storm in the 2013 WNBA Draft and played with the Storm for one season before moving to Washington Mystics where she played for six seasons. In her seven WNBA seasons, Hawkins has contributed mainly from the bench but saw five starts in 2020 averaging 6.1 points, 3.2 boards and 13.8 minutes per game. During the 2020 regular season, Hawkins averaged 8.5 points, 3.5 boards and a career-high 19.4 minutes per game.

In early February, Hawkins agreed to a two-year deal with the Dream while in free agency.

While at Maryland, Hawkins made an impression on the record books. On Jan. 19, 2012, Hawkins grabbed 24 rebounds against Wake Forest, which is the program record for the most boards in a single game. Her 331 rebounds from the 2012-13 season rank seventh in single-season rebounds and her career 1,086 boards from 2010-13 rank fifth in program history.

Kaila Charles, Connecticut Sun

6-foot-1 guard/forward, Maryland Class of 2020

Charles was selected 23rd overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft by the Sun and in her debut season, the Riverdale Baptist alum averaged 14.7 points per game, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Charles shot 49.9% from the field and started in seven of the 21 games during the 2020 season.

Her contributions helped the Sun advance to the semifinals during the 2020 season before they lost to the Las Vegas Aces.

Before this season, Charles elected to play for Petah Tikva, part of a D1 Israeli league in which she averaged 5.0 points per game while shooting 45.0% from the field and grabbed 2.4 boards per game.

As a Terp, Charles started in all 135 games in her career which ties Alyssa Thomas’ record for the most starts in program history. Her 1,984 career points rank sixth in program history and she led the Terps in scoring both her senior and sophomore seasons.

Brionna Jones, Connecticut Sun

6-foot-3 forward, Maryland Class of 2017

The Sun selected Brionna eighth overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft. Brionna has had a steady career in Connecticut and after not starting in a single WNBA game before last season, she started in all 27 of the 28 games in 2020. The one game she did not start in, she was sidelined for the full game due to an ankle injury. In four seasons in the WNBA, Brionna averages 4.9 points, 2.7 boards and 0.6 steals per game.

Her career was highlighted by her 2020 performance in which she scored 49% of her career points thus far as well as 44.0% of her rebounds. She’s coming off a season that she led the team with a career-high 60.5% from the field and posting her first two career double-doubles.

At Maryland, Brionna had a career that included two Final Fours and performances that left her name all throughout the Maryland record books. She ranks first in most 30-point games with 42, individual season leader with 697 points during the 2016-17 season and most consecutive games played with 142 from 2014-17.

Stephanie Jones, Connecticut Sun

6-foot-2 forward, Maryland Class of 2020

In the same class as Charles, Stephanie is now reuniting with both her former teammate and sister as she embarks on her WNBA journey with the Sun after signing a contract following training camp.

Although she has yet to make her WNBA debut, Stephanie securing a spot on the 11-person Sun roster makes her the newest addition to an already Terp-heavy squad.

At Maryland, Stephanie had a solid career. Her 59.4 career field goal percentage ranks third behind Crystal Langhorne’s 65.2% and her older sister Brionna’s 65%.

Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun

6-foot-2 forward, Maryland Class of 2014

Thomas was drafted fourth overall in the 2014 WNBA Draft by the New York Liberty. She was immediately traded to Sun which is where she has played her entire career and has made her mark in just six seasons. Out of 201 regular-season games Thomas has played in, she has started in 194 of them.

Her career totals include 2,352 points, 1,361 rebounds and 601 assists earning her the title of a WNBA All-Star in both 2017 and 2019.

During the 2020 season, Thomas averaged 15.5 points, 9.0 boards and 4.8 assists. However, while playing in the Czech Republic in the offseason, Thomas tore her Achilles’ tendon which will keep her off the court for the upcoming season.

As a Terp, she set the record for most career starts with 135 that Charles eventually tied. Thomas still holds the most career points scored with 2,356 that she racked up from 2011-13. Her 17.5 points per game are the most in program history as well and she is the only player in the record book to average over 17 points per game in their career.

Kristi Toliver, Los Angeles Sparks

5-foot-7 guard, Maryland Class of 2009

The Chicago Sky drafted Toliver third overall in the 2009 WNBA Draft. Throughout her 11 year career, Toliver has traveled around. In 2011, she moved to the Los Angeles Sparks before signing with the Washington Mystics and moving back to Los Angeles ahead of this season. Earlier this year, Toliver signed a three-year deal with the Sparks.

Toliver has had a rewarding professional career, including a WNBA All-Star selections in 2013, 2018 and 2019, as well as a WNBA Championships in 2016 (Sparks) and 2019 (Mystics). In her 339 WNBA games, Toliver averaged 12.4 points per game while shooting 44.6% from the field and 38.7% from deep. Toliver has started in 260 games and since 2015, has started in every game she’s played in.

As a Terp, Toliver’s 14.9 points per game in her career rank eighth in program history. During the 2008-09 season, Toliver hit 91 shots from behind the arc which led the program until the 2018-19 season until former Terp Taylor Mikesell scored 95 in one season.

One of Toliver’s most memorable Maryland moments came in 2006 during the NCAA Tournament National Championship game. With less than 10 seconds to go in regulation, Toliver sank the game-tying three to send the game into overtime. The Terps went on to win that game 78-75 marking Maryland women’s basketball first, and as of now only, NCAA Tournament National Championship victory.

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Waived

5-foot-11 guard, Maryland Class of 2017

The Washington Mystics drafted Walker-Kimbrough sixth overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft. In her first season with the Mystics, she was named to the All-WNBA Rookie team and in her final season in Washington, she became a WNBA champion. She spent three seasons in Washington before moving to the Phoenix Mercury.

During the offseason, Walker-Kimbrough was acquired by the Atlanta Dream along with Hawkins. However, on May 13, the team announced its final roster and Walker-Kimbrough was waived ahead of the 2021 season.

As a Terp, Walker-Kimbrough’s 41 30-point games put her third in the record book behind Brionna Jones and Marissa Coleman, who had 42 each. In 2016, Walker-Kimbrough set a Big Ten record with her NCAA-leading three-point field goal percentage of 54.5%.

Brianna Fraser, Waived

6-foot-3 forward, Maryland Class of 2019

Following her time at Maryland, Fraser played overseas in Hungary for Vasas Csata for two seasons. Fraser then earned an invitation to the Connecticut Sun training camp. However, earlier this month, the Sun announced they waived Fraser to cut down the roster.

As a Terp, Fraser earned a spot in the record books thanks to her free throw success. She made 246 from behind the charity stripe ranking 24th in program history.

Defensively, Fraser also made an impact. During the 2017-18 season, she tallied 35 blocks ranking 26th in program history. In her career at Maryland, she ranks 12th in blocked shots with 95.

Former Terps who transferred to other schools

Destiny Slocum, Las Vegas Aces

5-foot-7 guard, Arkansas Class of 2021

Slocum was just selected in the 2021 WNBA Draft by the Aces in the second round at the 14th overall spot.

Although she was at Maryland for just one season, she had a dominant collegiate debut. She averaged 11.5 points, 6.0 assists and 3.0 boards. She earned Big Ten Freshman of the year and helped the Terps reach the Sweet 16.

Following her time at Maryland, she transferred to Oregon State for two seasons and finished her career off with the Razorbacks as a redshirt senior. During the 2020-21 season, Slocum was a second-team All-SEC selection while averaging 15.0 points, 3.3 boards and 3.9 assists per game.

Kiara Leslie, Washington Mystics

6-foot guard, NC State Class of 2019

The Washington Mystics drafted Leslie 10th overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft. Her professional career got off to a rocky start after she dealt with a meniscus injury ahead of her rookie season.

However, she made her WNBA debut with the Mystics in 2020 and even started in 10 games including one playoff start. Injuries continued to be an issue for Leslie as she missed three games due to an ankle injury. In her 19 games on the court, averaged 5.5 points and 3.3 boards per game.

As a Terp, she averaged 3.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in her first season and 4.4 points and 3.0 boards in her second. However, in the offseason before the 2016-17 season, Leslie suffered another injury and then joined NC State after she graduated from Maryland.

With the Wolfpack, she played in every game averaging 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds in her first season and 15.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in her second year.

Natasha Cloud, Washington Mystics

5-foot-9 guard, St. Joseph’s Class of 2015

Washington drafted Cloud as the No. 15 overall selection in the 2016 WNBA Draft. In her four seasons with the Mystics, she has played in 26 games, starting in 20 of them, averaging 8.6 points, 2.96 rebounds and 4.15 assists per game.

Earlier this year in March, Cloud and the Mystics agreed on a multi-year contract to keep the guard who is the all-time franchise assist leader (617) in Washington.

Cloud played with the Terps for one season averaging 2.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and two assists per game. At St. Joseph’s, Cloud’s collegiate career took off. She ranks third all-time in program history in assists with 563 and holds the single-season record for assists with 243 that she set during the 2013-14 season as a junior.

Lexie Brown, Waived

5-foot-9 guard, Duke Class of 2018

The Connecticut Sun drafted Lexie Brown ninth overall in the 2018 WNBA Draft. After playing a season for Connecticut, she moved to the Minnesota Lynx for two seasons.

Brown has played in 72 WNBA games averaging 5.28 points, 1.32 boards and 1.38 assists. Ahead of training camp with the Lynx, Minnesota waived brown and she ended up with the Chicago Sky. However, on May 13, the Sky announced they waived Brown along with four other players to cut the roster size.

Brown played with the Terps from 2013-15 for her freshman and sophomore years. As a freshman, she was an All-ACC Freshman team selection while averaging 10.1 points, 1.9 boards and 4.3 assists en route to leading the Terps to an NCAA Final Four. She started in all 36 games her sophomore season while averaging 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists leading the Terps to another Final Four.

In her two seasons at Duke, Brown moved through the record books ranking third in scoring average with her 18.9 point per game, ninth in three-point field goals made with 142 and her average of 34.6 minutes per game with the Blue Devils is the most in program history.

Games to watch

Matchup Day Time (ET) Players How to watch
Matchup Day Time (ET) Players How to watch
Connecticut Sun vs Atlanta Dream Friday 7:30 p.m. Sun: Kaila Charles, Brionna Jones, Stephanie Jones, Alyssa Thomas; Dream: Tianna Hawkins Twitter
Dallas Wings vs Los Angeles Sparks Friday 10:30 p.m. Sparks: Kristi Toliver Facebook
Chicago Sky vs Washington Mystics Saturday 1 p.m. Mystics: Kiara Leslie, Natasha Cloud ABC
Las Vegas Aces vs Seattle Storm Saturday 3 p.m. Aces: Destiny Slocum ABC