The New York Liberty are the youngest team in WNBA history. The Liberty have seven rookies on their roster compared to only five non-rookies. Within the first 15 picks in the WNBA Draft, the Liberty accounted for six of those.
Led by No. 1 pick and super prospect Sabrina Ionescu, other rookies include No. 9 Megan Walker, No. 10 Jocelyn Willoughby, No. 12 Jazmine Jones, No. 13 Kylee Shook, No. 15 Leaonna Odom, and No. 19 Joyner Holmes.
The average age for the Liberty rounds up to 24-years old. Many players on the Liberty were born the same year as the WNBA in 1997.
In a media availability conference on Wednesday, Joyner Holmes spoke about what it’s like being one of the many rookies on the team.
“It’s getting easier, the first couple of days was a struggle for us just trying to learn everything and then continuously like being consistent and talking, stuff like that. It’s a little easier because you’re able to relate to these people on another level. We are all kinda the same age, we’re all on the same boat, so it’s easier to come and talk to them about things. Our vets have been very helpful for us throughout practice and even after practice just talking to us in simple situations. I think it is fairly easy as we are all on the same level and can all kinda communicate with each other. We kinda made history with all the rookies on our team with how young we are and how many we have, so that’s good.”
27-year old Kiah Stokes explained the impact that the young players have on the team.
“It’s been tough. There are definitely some days where we can tell we’re young. People stop talking, or there’s some confusion. It’s fun. We have young people that want to work hard, they want to play, they have that excitement. Which is exciting, because it kinda makes us feel young again. We’re not old, but sometimes our bodies feel old, like ‘oh man’ practice, but then you have the rookies coming in like ‘YEAH PRACTICE’ and you’re like you know what, ‘PRACTICE!’ They just have that positive energy, that spirit that keeps you fresh. They have the hunger, they have the want, and they have so much energy so I think we could use that to our advantage for sure. But, it’s been fun so far, just can’t wait for the games to start in a couple more days and then its GAME GAME GAME GAME. So we’re enjoying it while we can right now and trying to get better and as good as we can and get better every day till the games start.”
Even the Liberty’s head coach is a young rookie, 34-year old Walt Hopkins, who is a decade younger than the rest of the head coaches in the WNBA.
Since the league has never had a team this young, it should be interesting to see how well they are able to compete for a playoff spot. Everyone will be talking about Sabrina Ionescu, but what’s more important maybe how well all the rookies are able to establish themselves as pros and gel together.
Considering how much-untapped potential this Liberty roster has, it is hard not to get excited about the future of Liberty basketball. The way New York is rebuilding its roster is unprecedented in the WNBA. No one has dared to field a roster this young.
Unfortunately, the Liberty will not have their full squad of rookies to begin the season. Megan Walker tested positive for COVID-19 and has not joined the team in Florida but plans to play once healthy.
A new era of New York Liberty basketball begins against the Seattle Storm on Saturday, July 25 at 12 PM on ESPN.
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(photo credit: AP Images)