Arizona fans and several former Wildcat players, including Cate Reese and Lauren Ware, gathered at a WNBA Draft party hosted by Reese on Monday evening. Family, supporters and other well-wishers gathered at the Trident Grill for an event that Reese’s mother Cheryl said was meant to share the news, whether it was good or bad. It didn’t turn out the way that Reese or fellow Wildcat Shaina Pellington would have liked for their own careers, but another Arizona player had her name called on the ESPN telecast.
Arizona fifth-year guard/forward Jade Loville was taken 33rd in the 36-player WNBA Draft. She was drafted by the Seattle Storm, the team from the city where she grew up. The crowd gathered at the Trident cheered when they saw Loville’s picture pop up on the TV screens around the venue.
Loville came to Arizona after spending three years at Boise State and one year at Arizona State. Arizona head coach Adia Barnes often said that her fifth-year player worked like a professional. That was the characteristic Barnes shared with anyone from the WNBA who asked her. Now, Loville will get to prove it.
The Storm have won four WNBA titles, but they are facing a rebuild of sorts. Longtime point guard Sue Bird retired after last season. Star forward Breanna Stewart left to join the New York Liberty in free agency, taking less money from the East Coast franchise in order to return to her home state. She will join its stable of talent that includes 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones and former Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu.
That leaves Seattle in a position of finding a new identity. Although they still have Jewell Lloyd, the Storm lost a lot of scoring when Stewart walked out the door. They had just two players under contract after the former UConn star left.
The Storm added five players during free agency, but that still leaves them over $420,000 in cap space and up to five roster spots to fill according to Her Hoop Stats. That gives Loville and the other three players who were drafted by the Storm on Monday night prime opportunities to show their worth. If Loville makes the roster, she is slotted to make $62,285 this season.
As for Reese and Pellington, they aren’t the first Wildcats to go undrafted who planned to continue their basketball careers. Not hearing their names called on Monday isn’t the end of that dream. In a rare occurrence last season, former Wildcat Sam Thomas was not drafted but was invited to camp with the Phoenix Mercury and made the team. Other players, like Trinity Baptiste, Dominique McBryde, and Ify Ibekwe, have spent their professional careers playing in leagues around the world since leaving Arizona.