The 2011 WNBA All-Star reserves were announced during the Seattle Storm's 78-69 loss to the Chicago Sky today, which was fitting as Sky rookie point guard Courtney Vandersloot was named as an All-Star reserve for the Eastern Conference.
The WNBA's 12 coaches selected the WNBA's reserves and were instructed to select one center, two guards, two forwards, and one player independent of position. Vandersloot could easily have been the "wild card" selection and that's what might make her selection surprising to some, particularly as a rookie.
Vandersloot's statistics don't necessarily match up to some of the other players in her conference, particularly Indiana Fever center Jessica Davenport or New York Liberty forward Plenette Pierson, who fans could perhaps legitimately be considered "snubs". However, as Gonzaga Bulldogs fans already know, what Vandersloot brings to the floor goes beyond the numbers she records.
Although she has struggled with the strength and speed of the WNBA to some extent, she has still shown the poise to step into the starting lineup of a relatively young playoff team for the young Sky franchise. With veteran Sky point guard Dominique Canty out after knee surgery, Vandersloot has had to shoulder even more of the load than expected than when drafted third overall in the 2011 WNBA Draft out of Gonzaga.
Vandersloot is joined by Sky teammates Epiphanny Prince and center Sylvia Fowles, both of whom had big games against the Storm tonight, as Eastern Conference reserves. Vandersloot is also one of three rookies to make the 2011 All-Star team, with Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore being selected as a starter and San Antonio Silver Stars forward Danielle Adams being named as a reserve tonight.
But while Moore has garnered as much spotlight as any WNBA rookie ever has in the WNBA and Adams is generally considered the front-runner as 2011 WNBA Rookie of the Year, Vandersloot has quietly put together a fantasy year of her own in taking tiny Gonzaga to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, leaving college with a claim as one of the best NCAA point guards ever, getting drafted third, and then becoming an All-Star.
It's a pretty remarkable run for the 5-foot-8 Kent native when considering that few people even considered Vandersloot a first round draft pick when she last visited Seattle for a Christmas tournament in December.