Sky’s draft dream comes true with Reese, Cardoso

Angel Reese is a dream come true for a franchise that's always struggled to garner attention.

Reese, chosen by the Sky with the No. 7 pick of Monday's WNBA Draft, has 2.9 million Instagram followers. She could walk down Michigan Avenue tomorrow morning and sign a thousand autographs.

The former LSU forward isn't about to shy away from attention. Let's try to put this delicately, you probably saw what she wore to the WNBA Draft. Joakim Noah's seersucker suit, it was not.

Reese even gushed about Chicago at her first media availability, when asked what she was looking forward to the most in her new home.

“Ooh, summertime Chi-town,” Reese said. “To be cute on and off the court. I've always been to Chicago. The shopping is great. Just the lifestyle. I'm excited. I feel like I'm a Chi-town girl.”

Even better, the Sky get to pair Reese with the No. 3 pick, 6-foot-7 South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso. The Sky has representatives from the last two NCAA championship teams. It's like GM Jeff Pagliocca took a surfboard out on Lake Michigan and rode the tidal wave of interest in women's college basketball.

Cardoso, who was born in Brazil, said she's never been to Chicago.

“That was never the priority, but we're excited to bring players with such great personalities,” said Pagliocca, a Stevenson High School graduate. “We're looking forward to all the visibility and more viewership people are going to have for the Chicago Sky. But we're here to win games and that stuff comes second.”

Barely a month ago, Cardoso and Reese were battling as opponents in the SEC title game. They also played against each other in high school.

“I think it's going to be great,” Cardoso said in Brooklyn. “She's a great player. I'm a great player. So two great players together, nobody is going to get no rebounds on us.”

The WNBA Draft went basically as expected. Of course Iowa's Caitlin Clark was chosen by Indiana with the first pick. Los Angeles followed by taking Stanford center Cameron Brink No. 2. The Sky took Cardoso, then the Sparks added Tennessee forward Rickea Jackson with the fourth pick. The Sky made a trade with Minnesota to move from No. 8 to 7, helping ensure they would land Reese.

The Sky's third draft pick, No. 13 overall, was Gonzaga 6-foot guard Brynna Maxwell, who Pagliocca called the best shooter in the draft. Maxwell, a Seattle-area native, shot 48.1 and 44% from 3-point range the past two seasons.

Generally, it's tough for rookies to make an impact in the WNBA. With just 12 teams, there aren't many starting slots or roster spots for young players.

But all three of these draft picks figure to be major players for the Sky right away. Center Elizabeth Williams is one of just four holdovers from last year's eighth-place team, so new coach Teresa Weatherspoon will have to figure out how tall of a lineup to put on the floor.

“We have a winning coach and we have a winning culture here,” Pagliocca said. “We're not that far removed from a championship. We've had great records, we keep making the playoffs. We're not trying to slow down whatsoever.”

Reese had an interesting take on her decision to turn pro, rather than reap NIL rewards for another season at LSU.

“I wanted to start over,” she said. “I feel like I had been at a high since the (2023) national championship, and I want to hit rock bottom. I want to be a rookie again. I want to be knocked down by vets, and I want to be able to get up and grow and be a sponge.”

True, the Maryland native will be starting over in Chicago. But “Bayou Barbie” moving to the big city with her new best friend should be must-see basketball.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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