By Madisen Carter
The WNBA 2023-24 season is right around the corner, starting in May. The season will start on Friday, May 5th with two preseason games, continuing with eight more until the 19th of May when the regular season officially begins. This season, the teams will play in 40 games, the most the league has ever played in the previous 26 seasons.
To tip off opening weekend, there will be four games including the Washington Mystics taking on 2022 All-WNBA First Team Selection Sabrina Ionescu and the New York Liberty. Day two of opening weekend will feature Haley Jones and the Atlanta Dream when they take on the Dallas Wings, and opening weekend will conclude on Sunday the 21st when Aliyah Boston and the Indiana Fever face the New York Liberty.
WNBA Commissioner, Cathy Engelbert, said the league had its most viewers in 14 years last season. With 36 athletes coming in from the draft, some of whom participated in the viewership record-breaking 2023 NCAA Women’s Tournament, this upcoming WNBA season has a lot of buzz and anticipation leading up to it.
Some players to look out for that Unlimited Potential Basketball’s Coach Packie Turner has been working with during this off-season are 2023 first overall draft pick, Aliyah Boston, sixth overall pick, Haley Jones, and 2020 WNBA Draft first overall draft pick, Sabrina Ionescu.
Aliyah Boston was selected by the Indiana Fever with the first overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft. Boston played all four years at the University of South Carolina, and leaves with a long list of accomplishments. She moves on to her professional career with four SEC Defensive Player of the Year Awards, a 2022 Honda Cup Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year award, two National Player of the Year awards (2021, 2022), three First-Team All-America awards, 2022 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player award and much more under her belt.
Boston had a total of 1,942 points, 1,493 rebounds, 229 assists, 330 blocks and 141 steals at USC while averaging 14.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Boston helped lead the Gamecocks to a perfect 32-0 regular season and to the NCAA Tournament Final Four. The Gamecocks were looking to make it back to the Championship to go back to back, but fell short to No. 2 ranked Iowa 77-73.
“She’s going to have an immediate impact on this league,” The New York Times, Kris Rhim, reported Lin Dunn, the General Manager of the Fever, said at a pre draft news conference. “And I’m just thankful — I think we all are — that she opted to come into the draft.”
Haley Jones was selected by the Atlanta Dream with the sixth overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft. In her four seasons at Stanford University, Jones was a 2021 NCAA Tournament Champion, a 2021 NCAA Tournament Final Four Most Outstanding Player, a PAC-12 Tournament MVP, PAC-12 Player of the Year, a two-time Pac-12 Tournament Champion, and a lot more.
Jones leaves Stanford with a total of 1,525 points, 396 assists, and 889 rebounds and averaged 13.5 points, 3.4 assists, and 7.5 rebounds per game. She totaled 33 triple-doubles in her career and led the team in scoring 37 times. The Stanford Women’s Basketball team finished the 2022-23 season with an overall record of 29-6. When reaching its 35th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the team fell short in the second round of the tournament.
“She has an ability to do a little bit of everything, and I think that’s going to complement the group we have already,” The Mercury News’ Alex Simon reported the Dream’s General Manager Dan Padover said. “She’s going to bring a steadiness to her game, just from playing at a high level her entire career. I think everybody’s going to fit in seamlessly.”
Sabrina Ionescu is heading into her fourth season with the New York Liberty after being drafted with the first overall pick in 2020. Last season, Ionescu was named a starter for the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game and won the 2022 WNBA Skills Challenge. She also earned a spot on the 2022 All-WNBA Second Team, which made her the eighth player in Liberty franchise history to earn that honor.
Ionescu is joined by 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart going into this upcoming season. After the defending champs, the Las Vegas Aces, the Liberty team is set as a favorite to win the 2023 WNBA Championship in September.
“It’s my first offseason not rehabbing, and I could say it’s the first offseason that I’ve been able to kind of map out and know exactly what it’s going to look like and not have any obstacles of surgery procedures, you know, whatever that looks like,” The New York Post’s Jenna Lemoncelli reported Ionescu said early this year. “And so it’s been exciting… And now getting back to training and so super excited, just hit the ground running.”
Smith has been with UPB for a few weeks now and is helping with group training and private training. He said he has enjoyed seeing the variety of different athletes that come into the gym from division I college basketball players all the way down to three year olds. He said group training has been his favorite part so far, being able to interact with a lot of different athletes and helping them improve throughout the sessions.