Ursuline Academy graduate and former standout at the University of Delaware, Ellena Delle Donne burst onto the pro and international basketball scene the past few years. After playing several seasons with the Chicago Sky of the WNBA, Delle Donne will be playing next season closer to home after being traded to the Washington Mystics in a blockbuster trade.
Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault announced today that the team has acquired forward Elena Delle Donne from the Chicago Sky in exchange for center Stefanie Dolson, guard Kahleah Copper and Washington’s first round pick (second overall) in the 2017 WNBA draft.
"Clearly, this is one of the biggest moves in the history of this organization,” said Thibault. “In only four years, Elena has established herself as one of the premier players in the world, as evidenced by her MVP season two years ago. Her impact on and off the court will be invaluable. Her pure basketball talents as a scorer, passer, rebounder, and shot-blocker will raise the level of effectiveness of all her teammates, and those talented teammates will take a lot of the day- to-day pressure off of her as well. She joins a core group that is just entering the best years of their careers and is making a commitment to helping the Mystics become one of the elite organizations in the WNBA. Her involvement in the D.C. community will have an impact on a daily basis. This is an exciting time to be a Mystics fan."
Delle Donne has distinguished herself as one of the WNBA’s most decorated players over her four-year career, earning league MVP honors in 2015, three All-Star selections as a starter (2013-15, no WNBA All-Star Game in 2016), two All-WNBA First Team and one All-WNBA Second Team selections and the 2013 Rookie of the Year award in addition to being named to the U.S. Women’s National Team that competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. She has also been recognized for her efforts off the court, earning the 2015 WNBA Community Assist award and the Dawn Staley Community Leadership award in 2014 and 2015.
“I’m really excited about this next chapter in my career with the Mystics,” said Delle Donne. “Coach Thibault, Mr. Leonsis and Ms. Johnson have built a strong team that is ready to make a significant impact in the league and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I'm sad to be leaving Chicago, a place that was a fantastic city for sports and truly felt like home. I’d like to give a huge thank you to the fans there, and to the Sky organization for a great four years."
Delle Donne has averaged 20.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game over her four-year career and has led her team to the playoffs each year, including a trip to the WNBA Finals in 2014. She averaged a career-best 23.4 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game on her way to being named the league’s MVP and earning All-WNBA First Team honors in 2015. Last season, she averaged 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 28 games.
“Adding a player of Elena’s caliber and character is an exciting moment for us,” said Ted Leonsis, Monumental Sports & Entertainment founder, majority owner, chairman and chief executive officer. “I’m looking forward to the connection she will build with our city and our fans and to joining them this summer to cheer on the Mystics.”
The Sky selected the 6’5 Delle Donne with the second overall pick as a member of the heralded 2013 WNBA draft class. During her rookie season, she led the team to their first playoff berth. She was the leading vote getter for that year’s All-Star game and was unanimously named the WNBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 18.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
“We are thrilled to welcome Elena to our organization,” said Monumental Sports & Entertainment, vice chairman and Mystics president and managing partner Sheila C. Johnson. “Her reputation on and off the court is unparalleled and we are glad to have her on our team.”
Thibault added, "It is the difficult part of professional sports that when you make a trade such as this, you are forced to trade away excellent players in order to get it done. Good trades are not designed to be one-sided. They should benefit both teams, and in this case, Chicago is getting two very talented young players. I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching Stef and Kahleah. Stef has been a major part of our team for three years and it was very difficult giving her up and then having to explain it to her. She and I have had a terrific relationship on and off the court. It truly is like losing a part of your family.
Kahleah has the potential to be great and I hope she is every game except against us. Watching her improve throughout last season was fun to see. We wish them both well and great success in the future. They both deserve it."
Dolson was selected in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2014 WNBA draft by the Mystics. She help lead the Mystics to playoff berths in 2014 and 2015. She averaged 8.6 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game in the last three seasons. She was named to the All-Star team in 2015.
The Mystics drafted Copper in the 2016 WNBA draft in the first round (seventh overall). During her rookie season, she recorded 6.2 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game.
The Washington Mystics will open the season on Sunday, May 14, at 3:00 p.m. against the San Antonio Stars.