The WNBA will play its 22nd season in 2018. Though the league was founded on April 24, 1996, the first game was played on June 21, 1997. Since the W can now say that it’s 22 years old this year, I think it’s appropriate to put out this video:
But anyway, Los Angeles Sparks center Maria Vadeeva is just 19. Her birth date was on July 16, 1998. Regardless of whether you use the WNBA’s founding date or the date of its first game as its birthday, Vadeeva was born over one year after the league’s first game. She is younger than the league itself.
Maria Vadeeva is the first player drafted who was born after the WNBA started playing. She's literally never lived in a world without the W.— Kevin Brown (@over_short) April 13, 2018
To this point, every WNBA player was born before the league was founded. Sure, today’s rookies and sophomores may only remember a life with the WNBA. But in Vadeeva’s case, she’s younger than the league itself.
So why is Vadeeva going to the WNBA as a 19 year old while most WNBA players can’t go pro until they are 22 or four years out of high school? It’s because virtually all American players go to college after high school. In fact, any college player, regardless of nationality, must be 22 in the calendar year of the draft or four years out of high school. In Vadeeva’s case, she never played college basketball, so she must turn 20 in the calendar year of the draft. Vadeeva will turn 20 in a few months which made her draft eligible this year.