DURHAM, N.C. – As the WNBA gears up to tip off its 16th season later this month, eight former Duke Blue Devils will attend training camps in hopes of securing a roster spot on the league’s teams.
The Blue Devil alums include Mistie (Bass) Mims (Connecticut Sun), Alana Beard (LA Sparks), Chante Black (Tulsa Shock), Karima Christmas (Tulsa Shock), Monique Currie (Washington Mystics), Lindsey Harding (Atlanta Dream), Jasmine Thomas (Washington Mystics) and Krystal Thomas (Phoenix Mercury). Teams will open training camp carrying anywhere between 14 and 18 players with the intentions of closing camp with an 11-player roster.
Mims, who did not play last season, is entering her sixth WNBA campaign. She signed with the Connecticut Sun in Feb. 2012, and has already secured a roster spot. The 6-foot-3 forward is expected to be a significant front-court role player.
Beard, a four-time WNBA All-Star, signed a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Sparks, and returns to action after missing the 2010 and 2011 campaigns with ankle and foot injuries. Beard spent the offseason playing in Israel with Eliturz Ramla, where she led her team to the finals of the Premier League championship.
Black, who missed the 2011 campaign due to injury, has returned to training camp for the Tulsa Shock. Black started 23 games for the Shock during the 2010 season and led the team in field goal percentage (.537) and rebounding (6.5).
Christmas is entering her second season with the Tulsa Shock. Christmas, a 6-foot guard played in 17 games last season averaging 3.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 9.8 minutes per game. She is coming off an offseason in Israel where she averaged 20.0 points and 10.3 rebounds a contest.
After helping the Mystics to their best record in franchise history (22-10) in 2010, Currie missed the majority of the 2011 season due to a knee injury. She returns to the Washington Mystics after playing with the Homend Antakya in Turkey, where she averaged a team high of 16.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
Harding is entering her sixth WNBA season, and will return to the Atlanta Dream, who are two-time defending Eastern Conference Champions. Instead of spending her off season overseas playing basketball, Harding focused more on distance training while competing in three half-marathons in the past two months.
Jasmine Thomas, who came to the Washington Wizards in 2011 as a rookie, finished last season averaging 6.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 19.3 points per game. She is only the eighth player in Duke history to record more than 1,000 points, 300 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals.
The Phoenix Mercury enters training camp with a large roster of 19 players, which will be cut down to 10 active players for the 2012 campaign. Thomas, who is entering her second season in the WNBA, came into camp as the frontrunner to claim a roster spot as the backup center behind DeWanna Bonner.
The 2012 WNBA season will officially kick off on Friday, May 18, when the Los Angeles Sparks take on the Seattle Storm.