We’ve gotten no official word yet on the 2018 schedule for the Dallas Wings, but there’s been lots of big news coming out over the last week: The team has signed an international basketball star, resigned two team favorites and is sending two players to the U.S. National Women’s Team camp.
The Wings announced Monday, Feb. 5, that they have signed Liz Cambage to a multi-year contract. The team will officially introduce Cambage at a press conference on Feb. 26, at the College Park Center, the arena on the UTA campus that the Stars call home.
Cambage, at 26 years old and 6-feet-8-inches tall, is a three-time Player of the Year, taking two honors in 2011 as the Australiabasket.com Player of the Year and Australian WNBL Player of the Year as well as being tabbed as the All-Chinese Player of the Year in 2016. She is also a three-time All-Australian WNBL First Team member. She won Asia-Basket.com All-Chinese WCBA First Team honors three times and Asia-Basket.com Chinese WCBA All-Imports Team three times. She has been named Center of the Year twice by the WNBL and three times by the WCBA while leading her teams to five championships.
Cambage is a two-time Olympian for Australia’s Opals, claiming a bronze medal with Team Australia in the 2012 Olympics at the age of 20. During those Games, she gained international notoriety for becoming the first women to dunk in an Olympic contest.
Cambage finished as the top scorer in the WNBL this season while playing for her hometown team, the Deakin Melbourne Boomers. She averaged 23.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game to lead the Boomers to the WNBL Grand Final Series.
Recently, Cambage was honored with the 2017-18 Michele Timms Medal, the Boomers Most Valuable Player Award, while finishing second in WNBL MVP voting. During her WNBL career, Cambage has averaged 23.1 points per game, with 9.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 229 contests.
The Wings, then known as the Tulsa Shock, drafted Cambage, then 19, with the second overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft. She spent parts of two seasons with the Shock — in 2011 and 2013 — and earned WNBA All-Rookie Team honors in 2011. Cambage has career WNBA averages of 13.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while appearing in 53 games.
Plaisance, Thornton re-signed
Last Thursday, Feb. 1, and Friday, Feb. 2, Wings officials announced that two players from the 2017 season — Kayla Thornton and Theresa Plainsance — have signed new contracts with the team.
Thornton played in all 34 games for the Wings in 2017, averaging 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. She established career highs in seven categories, including a career mark for points in a game with 15 against Phoenix on Aug. 10.Wings President and CEO Greg Bibb said Thornton was “a key contributor to our team last year, and we are excited to have her return to our roster.”
Currently, Thornton is playing for the Shinhan Bank S-Birds in the Women’s Korean Basketball League. She ranks third overall in the league in scoring and steals, averaging 18.3 points per game and two steals per game.
Plaisance, who has signed a multi-year contract, also played in all 34 games in 2017, with 25 starts. She posted career highs in nine statistical categories, including scoring, registering 7.7 points per outing. She also collected 4.3 rebounds per outing while averaging 20.3 minutes per game. At the foul line, the 25-year old shot a career best 82.6 percent.
Bibb praised Plaisance for having “evolved from a third-round pick who played sparingly early in her career to a player who can log starter’s minutes at multiple positions in the WNBA.”
He said, “Her size and ability to shoot with 3-point range, combined with her versatility, make her a valuable part of our team,” adding that Plaisance has “matured into a leader on and off the court for our club.”
Diggins-Smith, Gray headed to National Team camp
The Wings’ all-star guard Skylar Diggins-Smith and last year’s WNBA Rookie of the Year Allisha Gray are among the 22 top professional women’s basketball players in the country expected to participate in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team training camp Feb. 9-11 at the University of South Carolina.
Diggins-Smith is one of the 16 members of the 2017-20 USA National Team, while Gray is among the six athletes invited to participate by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee in hopes of being named to the USA National Team pool.
Members of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team will compete in the 2018 FIBA World Cup Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain, and, if the USA qualifies, the 2020 Summer Olympic Games July 24-Aug. 9 in Tokyo, as well as additional USA training camps and exhibition games.