Women’s basketball is, of course, a global game. However, US-based coverage overwhelmingly comes from a North American-centric perspective. While this is understandable, it also can be productive to reframe the North American perspective through outside analyses. Swish Appeal’s newest contributor, Łukasz Muniowski, is going to help us see women’s basketball from other angles. Since receiving his PhD in American Literature from the University of Warsaw, Łukasz has written several books about American basketball. He also has covered women’s sports in Poland. Enjoy his debut article!
Erica Wheeler has one more year left on her contract with the Indiana Fever. She resides in Miami, where she holds an annual, Adidas-sponsored basketball camp. She just proposed to her girlfriend and the pair are to be married. (Congrats!)
Settling down must be a new experience for the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game MVP, whose basketball career took her to, among other places, Puerto Rico, Spain, Turkey and, most recently, Poland. The big question is whether she will return to BC Polkowice in the WNBA offseason, as she is now a free agent.
So far, team representatives remain quiet on the issue, but there is little doubt that they would love to have her back. The 5-foot-7 Wheeler was the Polish League’s MVP for the previous season, even though her team failed to repeat as champions. She could not receive the award personally, as the gala was held a month ago. With the WNBA season underway, team president Ireneusz Mirski accepted the award for her. After doing so, he said:
Anybody who’s seen Erica play knows that she’s a locomotive, the engine of the team and a volcano of energy. Erica’s triumph is not a surprise… and I really think we will continue to see her play on our courts.
Once the point guard joined Polkowice in January of 2022, she became a staple for the club located in a town inhabited by less than 25,000 people. The team plays in an arena belonging to a primary school, with a capacity of around 1,000. In her first two games for Polkowice, she scored 36 points, dished out 14 assists and grabbed eight rebounds. The stats showcased her versatility. Another thing that is striking about Wheeler is her consistency; in both of her seasons in Poland, she averaged around 15.5 points, 7.5 assists and a little under three steals per game.
The comfort of Polkowice — a small town once associated with copper extraction, and now more famous due to the proximity of a shoe factory and car plant — contrasts with the big-game atmosphere and the serious ambitions of the franchise’s owners. Even prior to Wheeler’s arrival, the team was one of the dominant forces in recent Polish women’s basketball history, with the Los Angeles Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike and Jasmine Thomas among the athletes who were once on the roster. Polkowice has appeared in the EuroLeague group stage numerous times and has been selected the Polish league’s most media-friendly club for three years in a row now. On the surface, BC Polkowice may not look like much, but the people behind the franchise clearly know what they are doing.
As her international situation is still unknown, Wheeler continues to produce for the Fever, appearing in 24 games, all starts, and averaging 9.8 points, 5.1 assists and 2.8 rebounds. The franchise is struggling, with just seven wins in 25 games. Even after a much-needed win on Tuesday evening, the team is going nowhere.
Where Wheeler will go still is an open-ended question.