Following the course set during the 2012-13 college season by broadcast partner ESPN, the WNBA has invested the majority of its marketing resources this season on the tireless promotion of just three rookies – center Brittney Griner, forward Elena Delle Donne and guard Skylar Diggins.
They have been the “Three to See.”
That the three eventually morphed into the top three draft picks in April, going in order to Phoenix (Griner), Chicago (Delle Donne) and Tulsa (Diggins), turned out to be a wonderful coincidence, one that seemed to validate the extra wattage trained on the trio.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
The “Three to See” has turned into the “Three Who Will Watch.”
Diggins, playing for the struggling Tulsa Shock, was not voted or selected to the All-Star team in the Western Conference.
Delle Donne, the former Delaware All-American and top vote-getter for the game, suffered a concussion playing in Wednesday’s game in Washington. She is likely to be formally ruled out of the game later Friday unless she is medically cleared to perform.
And Griner, the 6-8 tower of terror from Baylor, the league’s top draft pick by Phoenix, was pulled from the game – and the Western Conference’s starting lineup – on Thursday because of a lingering knee injury.
What’s left are the 22 other stars you have heard about, just not as much recently. They will form the core of Saturday’s showcase, which begins Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Ironically, there are seven other first-time all-stars on the roster, some of whom have made just as big of an impact on their teams as Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins.
Highlighting them is a pair of reigning WNBA award winners, guard Kristi Toliver, the WNBA’s 2012 Most Improved Player, and frontcourt player Nneka Ogwumike, the 2012 WNBA Rookie of the Year of the Los Angeles Sparks.
Guards Allison Hightower (Connecticut Sun), Ivory Latta (Washington Mystics), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Silver Stars), and Shavonte Zellous (Indiana Fever), as well as frontcourt player Glory Johnson (Tulsa Shock) will also make their star debuts.
Those players will be on display at the arena when the league holds open practices beginning from 3 to 3:45 with the East, coached by Indiana’s Lin Dunn. The West, coached by Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve, will practice from 4:15 to 5.