KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The WNBA tips off its 23rd season Friday, and as the new campaign begins there will be six former Lady Vols on rosters around the league. That total leads all SEC schools.
LVFLs in the WNBA include Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky), Isabelle Harrison (Dallas Wings), Glory Johnson (Dallas Wings), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Mercedes Russell (Seattle Storm) and Shekinna Stricklen (Connecticut Sun).
All-time, 48 Lady Vols have gone on to play in the WNBA. A total of 42 of those Tennessee products were taken in league drafts, including 17 first-rounders and three No. 1 overall selections.
Parker is Tennessee’s most seasoned WNBA veteran and enters her 12th year in the league with L.A. as a five-time WNBA All-Star forward, two-time league MVP and 2016 WNBA Finals MVP.
Last season, the 6-foot-4 standout started in 30 of her 31 games and produced an average of 17.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. She tips off this season against the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday, May 26, at 8 p.m. ET with fans being able to tune in on Twitter.
Stricklen is the second-most experienced UT player in the WNBA, heading into her eighth year as a pro. She was originally drafted second overall by the Seattle Storm and begins her fifth year with the Connecticut Sun by taking on the Washington Mystics on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (Twitter)
Last season, Stricklen saw action in 34 games and started in 30 of them, marking a career high for starts. The 6-2 guard/forward averaged 6.6 ppg. and 2.3 rpg. while playing 18.8 minutes per contest and shot a career-best 43 percent from three-point land, knocking down 58 of 135 attempts.
Johnson begins her seventh season in the league and her fourth overall with the Dallas Wings on opening day (May 24) against the Atlanta Dream at 7:30 p.m. (League Pass: WSB Now). Last year, the 6-3 two-time WNBA All-Star forward saw action in 29 games and started in 17. She averaged 8.0 ppg. and 6.0 rpg.
Joining Johnson in Dallas is Harrison, who recently was traded to the Wings by Las Vegas. Harrison sat out last season with the Aces due to medical reasons. The 6-3 forward begins her third season in the WNBA with career averages of 7.8 ppg. and 4.4 rpg. with a 50.4 shooting percentage from the field. Two seasons ago in 2018, she put up averages of 11.4 ppg. and 6.4 rpg. while starting 33 of 34 games with the San Antonio Stars.
DeShields makes her second-year debut with the Chicago Sky when they play the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday, May 25, at 8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network/FOX Sports North). Last season, DeShields appeared in 34 games and started in 33 of those, averaging 14.4 ppg., 4.9 rpg. and 2.2 apg. for the Sky. The 6-1 guard was one of five players named to the 2018 WNBA All-Rookie Team, tying for the most votes with A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas and Ariel Atkins of Washington.
After winning a WNBA Championship in her first season as a professional player, Russell returns for her second go-around with the Seattle Storm. During her rookie year, the 6-6 center saw duty in 24 contests, averaging 1.7 ppg. and 1.4 rpg. in 5.6 minutes of duty. Her first game this year is Saturday, May, 25, against the Phoenix Mercury at 3:30 p.m. (ABC), and she comes into that contest after averaging 11.0 ppg. and 8.0 rpg. during two preseason outings in 2019.