PHOENIX – Elena Delle Donne, who thrilled University of Delaware fans with her spectacular play over the last four seasons as one of the nation's top women's basketball players, will make her long-awaited professional debut tonight as she leads the Chicago Sky against the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA season opener.
The game will be played at 5 p.m. ET at the USAirways Arena and will be televised live on ESPN2.
Delle Donne (at right), who was the No. 2 overall pick in the WNBA Draft last month, will match up against fellow rookie and top pick Brittany Griner of the Mercury.
Delle Donne, Griner, and Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock are being touted by the league as the "Three to See" as each our coming off record-breaking college careers.
A native of Wilmington, Del. (Ursuline Academ), Delle Donne will be the first former Blue Hen to see action in a WNBA regular season game since Tyresa Smith played for the Detroit Shock in 2007.
"I think she's definitely key when you think about her talent, her skill set and her size," Sky head coach Pokey Chatman, the team's third-year coach and general manager, told wnba.com. "Then you talk about the deficiencies we had and she definitely addresses that. And (she's) a player who can swing to multiple positions."
Delle Donne ranked second in NCAA Division I with 26.0 points per game and scored 30 or more points in eight games this past season. She helped lead the Blue Hens to a 32-4 overall record and an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance for the first time in school history for head coach Tina Martin.
A four-time All-American and three-time Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, she holds the CAA career records for points, field goals, free throws, and blocked shots, and her 3,039 career points placed her fifth all-time in NCAA history. She also owns 10 University of Delaware career records as well as numerous season and single game standards.
In April, Delle Donne received the Honda Award as the top collegiate athlete in her sport, becoming the fourth UD student-athlete to be named a national Player of the Year in his or her sport.
Chicago kicks off its home slate on Friday, May 31 against Connecticut. Chicago will play its second and final national TV game on Wednesday, September 11 against Phoenix at 5 p.m. ET, also on ESPN2.