Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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IRISH IN THE PROS 50 AUGUST 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TODD D. BURLAGE F rom Ruth Riley and Jacqueline Batteast from yesteryear to Jewell Loyd and Arike Ogunbowale today, Notre Dame players have always and continue to make lasting impacts in the WNBA since the league began play in 1997. But perhaps never more than this year. Ten former Irish are on WNBA rosters this season. Many are starters and three of those players ranked among the top eight of the league in scoring heading into the All-Star break in mid- July. Speaking of the WNBA All-Star Game, Notre Dame impressively had three guards — Loyd, Ogunbowale and Jackie Young — all start in the game. They ranked Nos. 1-3 in all-star votes among guards. No other college had more all-star starters than Notre Dame's three. There were two former South Carolina play- ers among the 10 starters, and five other schools — Baylor, Duke, Oregon, Stanford and Connecticut — had one starter each. Loyd and Ogunbowale, in particu- lar, have been two of the brightest stars in the league this season. Heading into the all-star break, Loyd led the league in scoring at 25.7 points per game and Ogunbowale ranked third with 21.6 points per contest. Young was also hav- ing a strong season, ranking eighth in scoring at 19.1 points per outing. Loyd, the No. 1 overall pick of the Se- attle Storm in the 2015 WNBA Draft, is in her ninth season in the league made her fifth all-star appearance. She has already won two WNBA titles with the Storm, was the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2015 and is a two-time All-WNBA honoree. Following the departures of franchise standouts Breanna Stewart (went to the New York Liberty via free agency) and Sue Bird (retired), Loyd has taken on a bigger role for the Storm in 2023. "I knew that things would be differ- ent coming back to Seattle, so I pre- pared probably the hardest I've ever done anything, knowing that I would just need it, physically and mentally," Loyd told ESPN. "But at the same time, I'm just trying to stay as present as possible. I don't try to think too much ahead or worry about anything I can't really control and stay 10 toes down." Loyd posted the second-highest scoring month of June in league his- tory, tallying 282 total points in 11 games (25.6 average). She continued her hot play by setting a WNBA All-Star Game scoring record with 31 points to help lead Team Stewart to a 143-127 win over Team Wilson. She drained a record 10 three-pointers (including one four- pointer, a special feature in recent All- Star Games) en route to MVP honors. Loyd said winning the award was her goal and dedicated the performance to her parents, who were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary the day of the game. "I didn't have a gift for their anniver- sary, so I think this will be acceptable," Loyd told ESPN. "I hope it is." Ogunbowale, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft, is in her fifth sea- son with the Dallas Wings and made her third all-star appearance. She is a two- time All-WNBA honoree and earned All- Star Game MVP honors in 2021, one sea- son after she won the WNBA scoring title. On July 3, Ogunbowale scored point number 2,671, making her the Wings' all-time leading career scorer in only 133 games. Ironically, she passed for- mer Irish All-American Skylar Diggins- Smith as the franchise's leading scorer. In the All-Star Game, Ogunbowale tallied 18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal for Team Wilson. Young, the No. 1 overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces in the 2019 WNBA Draft, is in her fifth WNBA season and earned her second all-star selection. She helped the Aces win league title with last season, while earning first-team All-WNBA honors and the league's Most Improved Player award. The versatile guard suited up alongside Ogunbawale for Team Wilson, and con- tributed 6 points, 3 rounds and 2 assists. Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey (second from left) was on hand to watch former Irish standouts (from left to right) Jackie Young, Arike Ogunbowale and Jewell Loyd shine in the WNBA All-Star Game July 15. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS Three Former Irish Named WNBA All-Star Starters FIGHTING IRISH HEADLINERS Lindsay Allen (Played at Notre Dame from 2013-17), PG, Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) The former Irish point guard recently caught fire during a three-game stretch from July 5-9, when she averaged 11.6 points and 5.0 assists per outing. Her strong stretch of games included a season-high 16-point performance July 5 in a win over the Indiana Fever. For the season, Allen was averaging 5.6 points and 4.3 assists per game. Alohi Gilman (2017-19), S, Los Angeles Chargers (NFL) After a breakout third season mainly as a backup with Chargers in 2022, multiple media reports of out Los Angeles this offseason indicate that the former Fighting Irish team captain is in line to become a starting safety with the Chargers in 2023. Gilman started five games last season out of necessity and appeared in 14 total. He recorded career highs with 58 tackles and 3 passes broken up with 1 interception. Zack Martin (2009-13), G, Dallas Cowboys (NFL) With eight Pro Bowls and six first-team All-Pro selections in nine seasons, the No. 16 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft has established himself as one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL. Now, he is being celebrated by some as the greatest player ever at his position and a future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. recently listed Martin as a "lock" for induction, one of only two current NFL lineman to make the list.

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