For the first time ever, a rookie has stolen the WNBA's all-star spotlight.
Sky forward Elena Delle Donne has done nothing but impress over the first few months of her professional career, and WNBA fans have noticed. They voted for her more than any other WNBA player during the all-star balloting process, and on Thursday the league announced that with 35,646 votes Delle Donne will lead the Eastern Conference squad as an all-star starter for the July 27 game in Connecticut (2:30 p.m., Channel 7).
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Delle Donne, who is averaging 19.1 points per game and becomes the first rookie in WNBA history to finish with the most all-star votes, will be accompanied in the East's starting lineup by Sky teammate and star guard Epiphanny Prince (17 ppg). This is Prince's first start but second trip to the all-star game. She first made it in 2011.
Rounding out the East's starters are New York Liberty guard and Chicago native Cappie Pondexter, former Stevenson star and Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings and Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry.
Leading the Western Conference starters and ranking second overall with 33,810 votes is former Naperville star and Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker. She'll be joined in the West's starting lineup by guard Diana Taurasi and rookie center Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury, and guard Seimone Augustus and forward Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx.
Griner and Delle Donne were the first and second picks respectively in April's WNBA draft. Their selection as all-star starters marks the first time in league history that the top two picks of the draft earned spots in the all-star starting lineup as rookies.
Meanwhile, Catchings and Taurasi have been voted all-star starters every year that they have been in the league.
The all-star teams will be filled out by the 12 WNBA head coaches, who will select reserves by voting for six players within their own conference. By virtue of winning their respective conferences last season, Indiana Fever head coach Lin Dunn will coach the East all-stars while Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve will coach the West all-stars.