DURHAM, N.C.-- As the 23rd season of the WNBA arrives Friday, May 24 in Atlanta, shades of Duke blue remain heavily sprinkled in the league. Seven Blue Devil alumnae cemented a roster spot across four different WNBA teams after final cuts: Alana Beard (L.A. Sparks), Lexie Brown (Minnesota Lynx), Karima Christmas-Kelly (Minnesota Lynx), Chelsea Gray (L.A. Sparks), Haley Peters (Atlanta Dream), Jasmine Thomas (Connecticut Sun), and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream).
The seven WNBA players to make a roster from Duke ranks third among the nation. Only Connecticut (18) and Notre Dame (9) have more alumnae currently in the league.
Teammates Peters and Williams will appear in the WNBA season-opener on May 24 as the Atlanta Dream host the Dallas Wings at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on NBA League Pass. Brown and Christmas-Kelly match up against the Chicago Sky on May 25 at 8 p.m. (ET) in the first-ever WNBA game on CBS Sports Network.
The reigning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, Beard backed up her game with her second award in as many years, retaining her title as the best defensive player in the league. Beard is set to make her eighth season as a Spark in her 14th season in the WNBA. The 2004 No. 2 overall pick averages 11.6 points per game across her decorated career. Beard is Duke’s all-time leading scorer with 2,687 points across her four-year career with the Blue Devils.
Getting her feet wet in the league, Brown spent her first year as a Connecticut Sun before being picked up by the Minnesota Lynx. Playing 22 games her rookie campaign, Brown averaged 1.7 points in 5.6 minutes a game. Her 641 points in 2017-18 as a Blue Devil ranks fifth on Duke’s all-time single season scoring list.
Christmas-Kelly spent the last three years as a member of the Dallas Wings, but will don a Minnesota Lynx jersey in the 2019 campaign. A former WNBA champion with the Indiana Fever, the eight-year veteran will look to guide the Lynx with her experience and leadership. The Texas native output 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in a season cut short by injury.
A two-time WNBA All-Star, Gray continues to raise her game as she bested her season-high in points per game to 14.9. The former All-America standout is coming off a season in which she recorded her highest single-game points, field goals, offensive rebounds, assists, steals and blocks as she looks to help guide the Sparks to a title-challenge.
Signing a training camp contract on February 7, 2019, Peters established herself as a lock on the Atlanta Dream roster. The former Blue Devil will embark on her second stint in the WNBA after impressive performances overseas in France for Flames Carolo.
A seemingly ever-present in the Suns lineup, Thomas suits up for her ninth WNBA season, including her fifth campaign for Connecticut. The former Blue Devil guard has appeared in 134-of-136 regular season games in since her time as a Sun, including 133 starts. Thomas looks to build off another impressive display where she recorded 12.9 points and 4.8 assists per game.
Welcoming Peters to the team, Williams enters her fourth season as a member of the Atlanta Dream. The No. 4 pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft helped her team into the semifinals in the WNBA Playoffs as the two seed before falling to Washington in five games. Williams still places second for career rebounds at Duke, tallying 1,078 over the course of her college career.
Select WNBA games will be televised this season by NBA TV and ESPN2, with 20 additional games also being live streamed on Twitter for the third consecutive year. GoDuke.com will continue featuring weekly updates and social media blurbs to keep up with the performance of Duke alumnae in the WNBA.