Life After The ’Ville: Louisville Cardinals in the WNBA in 2019
The University of Louisville women’s basketball program has six former players on WNBA rosters. All three seniors who played for U of L in 2018–19 were chosen in the 2019 WNBA Draft. Asia Durr was chosen by the New York Liberty as the No. 2 overall pick, Arica Carter was taken by the Phoenix Mercury at No. 32, and the Washington Mystics chose Sam Fuehring with pick No. 34.
There are three other former Louisville players who are currently on WNBA rosters. Angel McCoughtry is rehabbing her knee with the Atlanta Dream. Myisha Hines-Allen (Mystics) and Asia Taylor (Indiana Fever) are looking to continue the momentum they built during solid seasons overseas.
For WNBA fans who see a former U of L player on their team, here’s what you can expect from them heading into this season.
Asia Durr (5–10 Guard)
Since the Liberty finished second from the bottom in scoring last year, their fans should be thrilled to get a player who averaged 21.2 points per game during her final season at Louisville.
Liberty fans should get used to hearing the phrase “Nite Nite,” especially if they follow Durr on Instagram (@i_hoop25). In practice, she says “Nite Nite” when she knows a shot is going in. When Durr hit a three-point shot during Louisville’s home games, the scoreboard showed a slick video of Durr turning off a light bulb with the words “Nite Nite” on the screen.
Even if Durr has a poor shooting night, she can help the Liberty in lots of other ways. Durr’s assist to turnover ratio of 1.81 ranked in the 95th percentile nationally during her senior year. She also averaged 3.8 rebounds per game in 2018–19. During Louisville’s Elite 8 game against UConn, Durr shot 1–10 in the first half, but still grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists.
New York reporters may be treated to some Asia Durr stand-up comedy once she gets comfortable around them. She appeared more comfortable with reporters during her senior season, as you can see from the joke she broke out before Louisville’s Sweet 16 game against Oregon State.
Arica Carter (5–8 Guard)
During her freshman season at Louisville, Carter was 0–15 from behind the arc. During her senior season, she made 63–168 three-pointers (37.5%) and established herself as one of the best perimeter shooters on the team. Carter was second in the ACC during conference games with a 2.55 assist/turnover ratio.
Carter is not the flashiest player, but she understands how to help her team win. Louisville coach Jeff Walz had this to say about Carter during a press conference in March:
“Well, Arica understands the game at the point guard spot. She’s not going to blow by you. I say it all the time, and it’s a huge compliment to her: She’s the ideal 50-and-over men’s YMCA league player. She is old school punk fake. Gets you in the air, one, two dribbles. When you watch, it there’s nothing that you’re going, wow, wow. She just understands the game. She knows how to play, and because of that she brings confidence to our team.”
Carter suffered a bone bruise during a game on March 9. The health of Carter’s knee will affect her ability to show her talents to the Mercury’s coaches during training camp. Carter missed two games after she hurt her knee, then played in Louisville’s final three NCAA tournament games. Carter turned in three gutsy performances, but she hit just 6–27 shots in those games. Her knee clearly was not 100%.
However, Mercury coach Sandy Brondello may be looking for extra help in the backcourt since Diana Taurasi will be out 10–12 weeks after she had surgery on April 24.
Sam Fuehring (6–3 Forward)
The Mystics released a “behind the scenes” video of the coaching staff discussing their picks on draft night. When they discussed Fuehring (about 1:30 into the video), they said she “knows how to play” and is “tough.” In other words, she’s exactly the type of player Mike Thibault loves. During the ACC tournament semifinal against NC State, Fuehring suffered a broken nose with 5:23 left in the fourth quarter. She did not come out of the game. If Fuehring can make the roster, Mystics fans will see that she is tough like Ariel Atkins.
Fuehring’s stats would have stood out more if she wasn’t on the same team as Player-of-the-Year candidate Asia Durr. Fuehring averaged 1.10 points per play (good for 28th nationally), made 56% of her shots, and led Louisville with 7.2 rebounds per game.
Fuehring is not afraid of the big games. She averaged 15.3 points per game in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, which was up 4.5 PPG from the regular season. She made 26 of 39 shots in the tournament, including 6 of 9 three-pointers. It’s normally tough for third-round picks to make a WNBA roster, but Thibault may have a tough time cutting a player like Fuehring once he sees her practice in person, especially if she continues to make long-range shots.
Myisha Hines-Allen (6–2 Forward; 2018 Draft Pick No. 19 — Washington Mystics)
After scoring over 2,000 points and grabbing more than 1,000 rebounds at Louisville, Hines-Allen was a solid role player for the Mystics during her rookie season. She played 24 games and averaged 10.5 minutes per game. Hines-Allen was a huge help when the Mystics had several players out with injuries early in the season. She posted double-doubles in two straight games vs. Minnesota and Seattle in May 2018. Her playing time decreased near the end of June as the Mystics players returned from injury, but she fought her way back into the rotation by the end of the season. She played in six of Washington’s nine playoff games, including all three games of the WNBA Finals.
After the WNBA Finals, Hines-Allen played in Russia for WBC Enisey. She averaged 23.2 minutes, 10.2 points, and 7.1 rebounds per game for WBC Enisey.
Thibault has indicated that Hines-Allen will be a part of his rotation in 2019, saying, “When you add Emma (Meesseman) back to your team and you have Emma and Elena (Delle Donne) and LaToya (Sanders) and Tianna (Hawkins) and Myisha, we have 5 really good post players. We’re not going to play more than that. It’s hard to get more than four in the game. So having 5 that are really good, that’s a nice position to be in.”
Angel McCoughtry (6–1 Guard/Forward; 2009 Draft No. 1 pick — Atlanta Dream)
After suffering a torn ACL on August 7, 2018, it is unclear when McCoughtry will return in 2019. After the draft, Dream coach Nicki Collen said Angel is making progress but will not be ready to start the season. All indications point to the Dream playing it safe and not rushing Angel’s return. Collen said, “We are just letting her body respond.”
Before her injury, Angel was averaging 16.5 points and 6 rebounds per game in 2018.
Since McCoughtry spent the summer rehabbing instead of playing overseas, she found other ways to keep herself busy. She had time to write a book, start a podcast, work on a script for a TV show, and continue running her local ice cream shop. She is also going to make an appearance in the Louisville area on May 3 when McCoughtry and Durr host a basketball camp for kids in grades 3–12.
Asia Taylor (6–1 Forward; 2014 Draft No. 36 pick — Minnesota Lynx)
Current team — Indiana Fever
Taylor is coming off an impressive 2019 season in Australia playing for the Perth Lynx of the WNBL. She was named MVP of the team.
Taylor led the WNBL in scoring, grabbed over eight rebounds per game, and hit 36% of her three-pointers. It was Taylor’s third season playing in Australia.
This will be Taylor’s fifth season in the WNBA. Taylor played in Minnesota in 2014, Connecticut in 2016, and Washington in 2017. She was waived by the Mystics before the 2018 season, then was signed by the Fever in June 2018. Taylor played 14 games for Indiana last year, averaging a career-high 8.3 minutes per game.
In February 2019, the Fever signed Taylor to a training-camp contract. The Fever hope Taylor can replicate the shooting touch she showed in Australia and early in her WNBA career. Taylor shot 52% in 22 games during her first WNBA season. She shot 60% in limited action in 2016. Her shooting percentage dropped off in 2017 (33%) and 2018 (31%). She will need to regain her shooting touch to help her make Indiana’s roster in 2019.