From star dancer to star scorer, Sky forward Kahleah Copper dances all over WNBA

  • The Chicago Sky has won seven straight and Kahleah Copper is a big reason for that sustained success.

    The Chicago Sky has won seven straight and Kahleah Copper is a big reason for that sustained success. Associated Press

  • Kahleah Copper gets past Connecticut's Brionna Jones to score last week at Wintrust Arena.

    Kahleah Copper gets past Connecticut's Brionna Jones to score last week at Wintrust Arena. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/25/2021 11:41 AM

Maybe it's the "magic of Kahleah Copper-field," if you will.

The dynamic Sky forward apparently can get anyone to dance. Even Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot, a cool customer who would probably prefer her pregame introduction routine to be a little more subtle and subdued.

 

Before the Sky's Thursday's record-setting win in New York against the Liberty, Copper got a more detailed and emphatic dance than usual out of Vandersloot.

"Yes ... we got Sloot to dance," tweeted Sky teammate Diamond DeShields.

To which one fan replied, "Courtney Vanderdance!"

Copper, like she has for years, stands at the end of the Chicago Sky introduction tunnel lined by teammates, and welcomes each starter as their name is called with a little dance that is specific to them.

Copper knows every dance, for every teammate. She also leads the team on to the floor from the locker room with dances, chants and songs.

She's like the social director ... the team captain of fun, and of getting fired up.

In Copper's early years, it was one of her biggest roles on the team.

"Every team needs that," Copper said. "Every team needs that person who keeps it light, who makes things fun, especially before games. I wanted to be that for us. That was my role."

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It still is, but these days, Copper is doing so much more for the 9-7 Sky, which just won its seventh-straight game, a franchise record.

Copper, in her sixth season in the WNBA, is now a starter for the Sky and is piggybacking on her breakout year last season in the WNBA Bubble in Florida.

In 2020, Copper was "golden" for the Sky, and putting up career-best numbers.

Copper, as much as she was an emotional leader early in her career, fought, and sometimes spun her wheels, for court time.

Over her first four seasons, Copper averaged only 15 minutes per game and got just 15 starts in 131 attempts. She averaged 6.5 points and 2 rebounds per game.

Last year in Florida, she exploded for 14.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists and started all 22 games.

These days, Copper is on the same pace.

She is leading the Sky in scoring at 14.1 points per game. She's also getting 5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game and is 16-for-16 in starts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I didn't give up on myself. That's the biggest thing," Copper said of how she turned the corner in her career. "When you're not playing much, it's easy to get down. But I just kept working on my game, and I saw that I was getting better and I think that helped me to stay confident.

"I worked a lot on getting to the rim and finishing at the rim and knocking down shots. That's my game.

"Then, I just got the opportunity (to play more), and when that opportunity presented itself, I was ready."

Copper was named the Sky's player of the game after putting up big numbers against the Liberty Thursday. She scored 18 points over 27 minutes while hitting 57 percent of her shots. She added 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

The Sky also got double-figure points out of four others: 18 points from DeShields, 13 points apiece from Vandersloot and Allie Quigley and 12 points from Candace Parker.

Copper says that depth and versatility is a strength for the Sky this season.

So is the team chemistry that is so important to Copper.

"Sky chemistry is a culture here," Copper said. "We don't even think about it anymore. It's just how it is. It's a family environment and people love it. New players when they come, they love it here. They love how we all have a genuine love for each other and we all have the same goal of wanting to win.

"But we do it together and we try to have a lot of fun."

• Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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