The one-time WNBA champion Chicago Sky have undergone a big transition during the offseason, with many of the core players that were instrumental in their improbable title run in 2021 going elsewhere. Candace Parker to the Las Vegas Aces. Courtney Vandersloot to the New York Liberty, Azurá Stevens to the Los Angeles Sparks. And Allie Quigley is taking the season off.
While there is a sense of uncertainty about what all this will mean to the future of the franchise in terms of them being a perennial contender, there is a new pool of talent coming in looking to resurrect the magic.
Among the new players is guard Kayana Traylor from Virginia Tech.
The No. 23 pick in the draft is coming off a season where she helped take the Hokies to the Final Four for the first time in program history. They lost to the eventual champion LSU Tigers in the national semifinals.
Traylor closed out her career, which included a two-year stint at Purdue, averaging 11 points per game and starting in 29 out of 35 games in her final season. She scored in double figures on 17 occasions and 20 points or more three times.
Her other career highlights included scoring her 1,000th point career during a game against Clemson on Feb. 8, 2022, making the ACC Academic Honor Roll in 2022 and becoming a two-time ACC All-Academic Team member (2022 and 2023).
Now that Traylor is taking her talents to the Windy City, she is beaming with excitement, even with some understandable feelings of anxiousness due to such a big transition. She is focusing on the simple things.
“I feel great, “ she said. “I’ve been trying to finish up school and do some housekeeping stuff. Also trying to stay in shape, doing workouts and lifting. It has been exciting at this point.”
Traylor will be joining a team stacked with talent on the perimeter: 2021 Finals MVP Kahleah Copper, Dana Evans and Rebekah Gardner. She has watched and admired each of those players for their respective talents and journeys, from Copper’s tenacity to Evans being from Indiana like her to Gardner coming from a long career overseas.
Given all the major changes to the team and the subsequent uncertainty, Traylor also said that she will reach back to her college experiences to help contribute.
“I was in a similar position at VT where I just adapted to any role,” she said. “Just really going in open-minded and wanting to learn.”
In addition to looking to make a difference on the court, she already has plans in mind to make a difference in court. She has expressed intentions to pursue law school after her basketball career concludes. While Traylor is not sure of what her specializations would be, she sees herself working as a defense attorney on behalf of those seeking second chances at life.
Those ambitions put her in great company with people like WNBA legend Maya Moore and former player Imani McGee-Stafford, who each have taken on advocacy roles within the criminal justice system.
Now that she has been selected, is in the process of transition and is already setting her sights on her post-career before she has even set foot on a WNBA court, Traylor is again focusing on simplicity as the umbrella term to describe what she is looking forward to the most about the upcoming season.
“Honestly just a new experience, “ she said. “I love playing basketball and traveling to different cities. All of it honestly, and the end goal is to win, that is what I want to do. I am looking forward to the experience overall.”