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Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young excited about making All-Star debuts

Updated June 27, 2022 - 11:19 am

Aces guard Kelsey Plum was eating breakfast with her family when she got the phone call. It was WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

The fifth-year guard had been named a WNBA All-Star for the first time, Engelbert told her.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Plum said. “I know (my family) was really proud. I know people saw it coming, so it was just really cool. You work for that.”

The WNBA announced its 10 All-Star starters last week, with Plum, fifth-year forward A’ja Wilson and fourth-year wing Jackie Young — the Aces’ three No. 1 overall picks — representing the franchise for the July 10 game at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

Plum is averaging 20.2 points and 5.8 assists; Wilson 18.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks; and Young 18.3 points and 4.1 rebounds.

“Everyone in the league has that as a goal on their list,” said Young, also making her All-Star debut. “To be able to achieve that, it’s a really good feeling.”

Young credited her offseason work for her breakout season. Her emergence and Plum’s return to the starting lineup have helped the Aces to a 13-4 record entering Monday’s 7:30 p.m. game against the Los Angeles Sparks (7-10) at Crypto.com Arena.

The Aces’ three All-Star starters are the most among the league’s 12 teams. Plum said knowing other players respected her game has been the most meaningful part about being named a starter.

While Young and Plum prepare for their first All-Star experiences, Wilson will be making her fourth appearance. She won the fan vote and will co-captain one of the teams.

Despite her accolades, Wilson was more excited to see Young and Plum rewarded. They were the top two vote-getters at guard.

“When you watch them behind the scenes, watch them come into work every single day and give it 100 percent, they’re pros at what they do,” Wilson said. “It’s good for them to finally get recognized and take it all in. It’s a big deal.”

Aces coach Becky Hammon also will travel to Chicago, taking the helm for Wilson’s team as a reward for having the league’s best record as of Friday.

Wilson hopes the three won’t be the only representatives on the team. She said she thinks point guard Chelsea Gray, a four-time All-Star, and versatile forward Dearica Hamby, who made her first All-Star team last season, deserve to be named reserves.

“Their pitch is what they do on the court,” Wilson said. “It is what it is. They’re All-Star caliber players.”

The league’s head coaches will vote for the reserves, and the results will be announced Tuesday. The drafting of teams will be at noon Saturday and televised on ESPN.

As co-captains, Wilson and Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm will draft one team. Wilson said she already has thought about which players she might take, joking that her decisions will be driven by the desire to protect her 1-0 record as a co-captain.

“I draft to win,” Wilson said. “I’m not with that friendly stuff. I know we’re teammates and all, but I’m trying to win.”

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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