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WNBA Free Agency: Indiana Fever upgrades second-round pick, awaits 2020 WNBA Draft

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The Indiana Fever traded Shenise Johnson to the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for draft picks as team vice president and general manager Tamika Catchings seeks to build around Kelsey Mitchell through the 2020 and 2021 WNBA Drafts.

Indiana Fever Introduce Allison Barber - Press Conference
Fever President and COO Allison Barber (left) and vice president and general manager Tamika Catchings (right) hope to bring Indiana back to its winning ways.
Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

On March 6, The Indiana Fever traded Shenise Johnson and the No. 16 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft to the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for the No. 14 pick this year and a third-round pick in 2021.

Johnson played four years with the Fever, starting 27 games and averaging 10.9 points per game in 2015. Last year, she was injured midway through the season and averaged only 4.9 points.

The 2020 WNBA Draft, coming up on April 17, is going to be critical for Indiana, which has the No. 3 overall pick. The Fever could bring on an all-around talent like Megan Walker of the UConn Huskies or hope the Dallas Wings don’t select Satou Sabally at No. 2 and leave the Oregon Ducks star to be picked third.

Six-foot-ten Hungarian center Bernadett Határ, who was signed by the Fever on Feb. 19, has the height to form a lethal duo with second-year player Teaira McCowan in the post but she hasn’t put up monster numbers overseas. So, Lauren Cox of the Baylor Lady Bears and Ruthy Hebard of Oregon also would be tempting options. The 6-foot-4 Cox already has experience playing with a taller frontcourt from when she played with 6-foot-7 Kalani Brown at Baylor.

At No. 14, Indiana moves into a better position to get Beatrice Mompremier, a Miami Hurricane forward who has a lot of WNBA potential despite missing much of her senior season due to a foot injury. Virginia Cavalier small forward Jocelyn Willoughby, who led the ACC in scoring average at 19.2, is also an option that might be available early second round, as are Bella Alarie of the Princeton Tigers and Joyner Holmes of the Texas Longhorns.

At No. 28, Indiana’s third and final pick for 2020, Duke Blue Devil shooting guard Haley Gorecki may still be around and she’s a pure scorer that any team could use off the bench as a rookie.

Aquiring Julie Allemand

The Fever woke up a dormant free agency stretch on March 2 with the signing of Belgium native Julie Allemand, a point guard for the Lyon ASVEL in EuroLeague Women. The team announced that Allemand has been signed to a multi-year contract but did not reveal any further details per team policy.

Allemand was selected by the Fever at No. 33 overall in the 2016 WNBA Draft and went on to play overseas for Royal Castors Braine of Belgium.

She is now in her third year with Lyon ASVEL of France.

The Fever already have a starting point guard in Erica Wheeler, who averaged 10.1 points and 5.0 assists last year, and won the All-Star Game MVP award. But vice president of basketball operations and general manager Tamika Catchings believes Allemand will make an impact.

Catchings stated in the team’s press release:

We’re excited to welcome Julie to our team. Julie has continued to develop her point guard skills with the Belgium national team. Her overseas endeavors will make her an instrumental player for our team.

Allemand has yet to play in a WNBA game but she has put up solid numbers (8.1 points, 5.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals) for Lyon this season. She also averaged 10.0 points, 5.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds for the Belgian national team over the course of three qualifying games for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which Belgium successfully won.

Kelsey Mitchell a star in the making

Prior to signing Allemand, the team re-signed Tiffany Mitchell and Betnijah Laney on Feb. 14.

Mitchell has played her entire four-year career in Indiana and last season averaged 9.7 points while coming off the bench more frequently than starting. She was the team’s fifth-best scorer behind Kelsey Mitchell (13.6 points), Candice Dupree (11.6 points), Wheeler and 6-foot-7 rookie Teaira McCowan (10.0 points apiece).

Laney, meanwhile, started 27 games and averaged 5.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest.

The Fever also return Kelsey Mitchell and Natalie Achonwa from a team that went 13-21 in 2019 and missed the playoffs.

Wheeler and Dupree (an aging legend who is sixth all-time in WNBA scoring) were the two Fever representatives at the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game and Achonwa had another solid year with 18 starts. But Kelsey Mitchell is the one poised to have a breakout season and become an even bigger star than she is already — potentially one who can put the team on her back.