A dozen former Big 12 players are on active rosters in the WNBA begins the 2022 season on Friday evening.
Baylor leads the way with a half-dozen players in the league. Two of them are rookies — NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo — who are both playing with the Indiana Fever. They will be with the Fever when they face the Washington Mystics on Friday in the league’s first regular-season game.
Smith and Egbo also have a Big 12 teammate in former Oklahoma guard Danielle Robinson. She’s a 10-year veteran who averaged nearly 10 points last season for the Fever. She’s also a three-time WNBA All-Star and a three-time WNBA All-Defensive Team selection.
One Big 12 player will be on the Mystics’ roster on Friday night — former Texas guard Ariel Atkins. The fourth-year pro has averaged 11.8 points for her career and was a 2018 WNBA All-Rookie selection. She won a WNBA title with the Mystics in 2019.
There are three other games on Friday night — Los Angeles at Chicago, Las Vegas at Phoenix and Minnesota at Seattle.
The Minnesota Lynx have two Big 12 players on their roster heading into the opener. Former Baylor guard Odyssey Sims heads into the season having just joined the Lynx earlier this week. The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft reached 1,000 career field goals last season while playing with the Atlanta Dream. Her new teammate is former Iowa State forward Bridget Carleton, who is entering her fourth season and averaged nearly five points per game last season.
The rest of the Big 12’s WNBA players are in action on Saturday, as Connecticut hosts New York and Dallas hosts Atlanta.
Connecticut has a high concentration of former Big 12 players, led by former Baylor guard-forward DiJonai Carrington, who played her rookie season with the Sun and scored 68 points and grabbed 47 rebounds in 24 games. Texas has two former players on the Sun’s opening-day roster. Yvonne Anderson, who played for Texas from 2008-12, has played internationally for more than a decade before joining the Sun. Forward Joyner Holmes is entering her third WNBA season. As a rookie with the New York Liberty in 2020, she once had 13 points and 13 rebounds in a game.
The New York Liberty has one former Big 12 player, Baylor guard-forward DiDi Richards. She spent her first season with New York averaging 2.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 11.2 minutes per game, but leading all rookies in 3-point shooting percentage.
Dallas is led by last year’s No. 1 overall pick, former Texas forward Charli Collier. She’s hoping to improve on a 2021 in which she averaged 3.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Atlanta features former Baylor guard Kristy Wallace. She was a second-round pick of the Dream in 2018, but last season she spent the season with the WNBL’s Southside Flyers in her native Australia. She’ll be a WNBA rookie this season.
There is one notable former Big 12 player missing, and that’s former Baylor center Brittney Griner, who is on Phoenix’s roster. Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow-area airport while entering the country. Russian prosecutors said she illegally brought vape cartridges containing hashish oil. She hasn’t been charged, and the United States classified Griner as ‘wrongfully’ detained earlier this week.
Matthew Postins is on Twitter @PostinsPostcard