Updated August 2, 2019 - 10:16 pm
Dallas Wings forward Isabelle Harrison is now doing what she couldn’t do last season with the Aces.
She’s playing basketball.
Harrison was diagnosed with an undisclosed autoimmune issue before the 2018 season and never played for the Aces, casting doubt on her WNBA future.
Her family has a long history of similar issues, though, and she leaned on her family and adjusted her lifestyle to recover. She was traded to Dallas in May for Liz Cambage and is averaging 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds a game for the Wings, who host the Aces on Saturday. It will be the second time in five days the teams have met.
“I was watching the Aces play, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever get back there,’ just from what I was going through,” the 25-year-old said earlier this year. “I’m just glad to be back.”
Harrison was selected by the Phoenix Mercury in the first round of the 2015 WNBA draft but missed her rookie year while recovering from a knee injury sustained during her senior season at Tennessee. She debuted in 2016, was traded in 2017 to the San Antonio Stars and averaged 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in 33 starts while displaying versatility and toughness in the low post.
The franchise relocated to Las Vegas after the 2017 season while Harrison was playing abroad. But she had been experiencing abnormal fatigue and soreness.
She returned home in April 2018 and was diagnosed with the autoimmune problem before the Aces opened training camp.
“I was scared because I was perfectly normal and healthy,” said Harrison, who has multiple siblings with lupus. “You change your whole lifestyle when something like that happens because it affects more than what it used to. You change a lot of your habits and stuff. I’m still learning.”
Harrison eliminated dairy and red meat from her diet and noticed immediate improvement in her condition. She spent last summer living with her sister in Dallas with full support from the Aces.
“She had to do what she had to do for herself, ” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. “So that was OK.”
Harrison modified her training and played in Italy and the Czech Republic during the WNBA offseason. She arrived in Las Vegas before the 2019 season and impressed team staffers in training camp with her energy and versatility, showing no signs of attrition.
“When I first got sick, I didn’t know if I’d be able to travel, if I’d be able to take long days and practices,” Harrison said. “It was scary, but my family was so encouraging. You can still live a normal life. You can still do the things you did before.”
Like play basketball.
Who: Aces at Dallas Wings
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: College Park Center, Arlington, Texas
TV: NBA TV
About the Aces (14-7): The Aces ruled out Liz Cambage (rest) for Saturday’s game. She was traded from Dallas to Las Vegas in May and is averaging 15 points and 8.2 rebounds. Leading scorer A’ja Wilson (ankle) will miss her fifth game.
About the Wings (6-15): Arike Ogunbowale averages 14.6 points and is among the front-runners for WNBA Rookie of the Year. The Wings lost 86-54 Tuesday in Las Vegas and are 0-2 against the Aces.