Longhorns in the WNBA: Mystics start hot, McGee-Stafford and McCarty reunite

AddThis

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Since the start of the WNBA season on May 24, Texas has had three former stars appear in WNBA games. The former Longhorns Brooke McCarty-Williams, Imani McGee-Stafford and Ariel Atkins have all had opportunities to add to their teams’ efforts through the first month of the WNBA season. 

While they’re best remembered for their contributions to Karen Aston’s 2014-15 and 2015-16 Texas squads — two of her best since arriving at Texas in 2012 — they’re recognized today for their performances at the highest level of women’s basketball.

Here’s a rundown of the three Longhorns in the WNBA:

Ariel Atkins 

It’s pretty hard to beat Ariel Atkins’ résumé. 

Atkins capped off a stellar career at Texas by being drafted No. 7 overall in the 2018 Draft by the Washington Mystics, becoming the third-highest drafted player in program history. 

Following a stellar rookie season capped off by powering the Mystics to their first WNBA Finals appearance, Atkins has picked up where she left off. 

The second-year guard has been nothing short of stellar through Washington’s first 10 games. Atkins has steadily emerged as a rising star by averaging nearly 24 minutes per game while ranking third on her team in scoring behind superstar Elena Delle Donne and veteran Kristi Toliver, thrusting the Mystics into second place in the Eastern Conference. 

Assuming Atkins remains healthy, the Mystics are in prime position to return to the WNBA Finals.

Imani McGee-Stafford

Now in her fourth year in the WNBA and first with the Dallas Wings, the 6-foot-7 sister of NBA center JaVale McGee has shown that family genetics carry over. 

Much like her brother, McGee-Stafford has spent her professional career as a role-playing big. Despite the change in scenery, her game early on this season hasn’t been any different. 

Although McGee-Stafford’s averages have declined in most major categories (points, rebounds and blocks per game) throughout her career, the young season sprouts hope for McGee-Stafford to blossom into the player the Chicago Sky envisioned when they drafted her 10th overall in 2016. 

The Wings, who are last place in the Western Conference, have shown new faith in the former Longhorn, now reunited with Brooke McCarty-Williams. McGee-Stafford has started three of Dallas’ eight games this season, playing more than 15 minutes in four of them. 

Although the Wings aren’t as competetive as McGee-Stafford’s former team, the Atlanta Dream, they offer her the opportunity to play — one Atlanta wasn’t able to provide.

Brooke McCarty-Williams

At this time last year, McCarty-Williams’ professional future was unclear. Undrafted out of college, McCarty-Williams was invited to the Los Angeles Sparks 2018 training camp but didn’t make the final roster. 

Determined to have a professional career, McCarty took her talents to Europe, where she spent the year overseas with Peli-Karhut of the Finnish Korisliiga. McCarty-Williams shined in the Finnish league, averaging 17.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Her play caught the attention of the Wings, who have given her a chance in the spotlight.

With star point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith out on maternity leave, McCarty-Williams has received generous amounts of playing time, though she hasn’t made the most of it. McCarty-Williams is averaging more than 21 minutes per game through Dallas’ first eight games of the season, but has struggled from the field, shooting just over 26% to go along with 3.9 points per game. 

McCarty-Williams’ poor start could lead to a reduction of minutes considering she currently has the worst shooting percentage on the team.