WBB: Eight Blue Devils set to open 2017 WNBA campaign Saturday

Posted May 13

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A total of eight Duke women’s basketball alumnae are set to kick off the 2017 WNBA campaign, which opens Saturday, May 13. Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream), Karima Christmas-Kelly (Dallas Wings), Jasmine Thomas (Connecticut Sun), Alana Beard (Los Angeles Sparks), Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks), Monique Currie (San Antonio Stars), Haley Peters (San Antonio Stars) and Krystal Thomas (Washington Mystics) each made 12-member rosters for their respective teams.

Currie and Peters will get things started Saturday as San Antonio will open action against the New York Liberty at 3 p.m., on NBATV. Other games Saturday that feature Duke alumnae is Seattle at Los Angeles at 5 p.m., on ESPN and the Atlanta Dream at Connecticut Sun at 7 p.m.

Beard will start her 12th WNBA campaign, after helping lead Los Angeles to the 2016 WNBA season. The six-time WNBA all-Defensive Team selection and 2006 Second Team All-WNBA honoree, Beard started all 34 games in 2016, while averaging 7.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals. Her 1.7 steals ranked second in the league.  The 2004 Duke graduate is one of three Blue Devils to have her jersey retired.

Christmas-Kelly was married this offseason to former Duke football standout Austin Kelly. She enters her second season with the Wings and her seventh season in the WNBA. Christmas-Kelly is coming off a career-best season averaging 12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals as she started all 34 contests.  The 2011 Blue Devil graduate has seen action in 195 career WNBA games. The Wings will open the season Sunday, May 14 at 6 p.m., at Phoenix.

A 2006 Duke graduate, Currie will open her 12th season in the WNBA and her second in a row with San Antonio. She averaged 10.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists as she started all 34 contests in 2016.  Currie has started all 34 games in seven different seasons, including each of the past two years.  She has appeared in 343 WNBA games and made 318 starts.

After helping lead the Sparks to the 2016 WNBA title, Gray will kick off her third season in the WNBA and the second straight with Los Angeles. She averaged 5.9 points, 2.2 assists and 1.8 rebounds this past season, but turned up her play in the postseason averaging 9.0 points, 2.8 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals.  Gray was an All-America at Duke and graduated in 2014.

Peters, who earned her Duke degree in 2014, will compete with the Stars for the second consecutive season, after being undrafted. She averaged 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists as she appeared in all 34 games in 2016.

Entering her third straight season with the Sun, Jasmine Thomas will look to build off a career-best 2016 WNBA season where she averaged 11.7 points, 5.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals. She enters the season starting each of the last 68 games for Connecticut and has never missed a WNBA game playing in 204 consecutive contests. Thomas is coming off earning WNBA All-Defensive Team accolades in 2016.

Krystal Thomas enters her sixth season in the WNBA and will open her first campaign with the Mystics. Thomas, who is a 2011 Duke graduate, has seen action for five different WNBA teams with this season the first on the east coast. She has appeared in 118 career contests in the WNBA, while making 31 starts. Thomas and the Mystics will open action Sunday, May 14 against the Stars at 3 p.m.

The 2016 WNBA Most Improved Player, Williams enters her third year in the WNBA and her second with Atlanta. The 6-3 post player averaged 11.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots this past season.  She ranked 28th in scoring, fifth in rebounding and second in blocked shots last season. Williams, a 2015 Duke graduate, had her No. 1 jersey retired in Cameron Indoor Stadium this past December.

New for the 2017 WNBA campaign, the league will live stream 20 regular season games via Twitter @WNBA.


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