Delle Donne Honored to Lead All-Star Votes

NEWARK, N.J. - Just two months into her WNBA career, Elena Delle Donne became the top vote getter in the 2013 WNBA All-Star game - the first for a rookie in WNBA history.

"It's an amazing feeling to think people are already following me as a rookie," Delle Donne said after finding out the news. "It's really awesome. I can't thank the fans enough for voting for me and I'll do my best to make them proud."

Minutes later, Delle Donne scored 23 points to lead her Chicago Sky team to a bruising 77-55 win over the New York Liberty.

The rookie out of Delaware is averaging 19.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season. Thanks to her dominating performance, the Chicago Sky were not only to cruise to the win, but also take the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings, at 11-4. Teammate Epiphanny Prince said Delle Donne has truly been the difference-maker for the team, considering the franchise has had so many setbacks in its history that have prevented them from ever making the playoffs.

"She's a very versatile player," Prince said while watching Delle Donne take some practice jumpers before the game. "We never gave her the rookie treatment because she fits in so well with the team and she's the player that can help get us over the hump that we're trying to get over."

In the final returns of the 2013 All-Star Balloting presented by Boost Mobile, Delle Donne led all players with more than 35,000 votes. Second place went to Los Angeles Sparks superstar Candace Parker. Delle Donne said it not only was an honor to make the All-Star team, but to suddenly find herself ranked among the league's elites.

"It's an awesome feeling," she said. "It's something I dont think about much just because I'm so focused on the next game living in the moment. But when I think about the players I've gone against, it's an awesome feeling because this is a moment I've been dreaming of my entire life."

She credits her coaches and teammates as helping her make such a seamless transition into the league, along with the intense preparation she put in leading up to the season. From the moment she was drafted in April, she said she wasted no time in that month leading into training camp.

"I trained extremely hard before I came into training camp. "I made sure I was in really good shape, was hitting weights - all that. I wanted to make sure I was on top of my game coming into training camp so I didn't have to start behind."

In college, Delle Donne often drew in double- and sometimes triple-team defenders. She said excelling under such intense pressure in college helped prepare her for the WNBA, too.

"The physicality of that was extemely difficult and obviously the WNBA is a physical game too, so I really think that prepared me also," she said.

Sky coach Pokey Chatman looked on as Delle Donne ran off the court and to the locker room for last-minute preparations before the game. She was asked if she thinks Delle Donne will take home Rookie of the Year honors this season.

"I do," she said. "People will say I'm biased, but yeah because I get to see more than just the games. I get to see her at practice, I get to see the days off, I get to see the weight room, the individual workouts, and I get an inside look on her preparing. The poise she's managed to have as a rookie. You don't see a lot of panic when she plays because she knows how to use her basketball IQ."

Considering how well Delle Donne is playing in her rookie year, Chatman said, imagine what her upside will be in the years to come.

"Sometimes I don't know if Elena knows how good she can really be," she said. "I mean that in a good way of course. She's knows she can play the game. But she's just an unassuming player with such superstar skillsets and we want to work with her and develop that superstar mentality."

Delle Donne said she's been able to be play so well this season because she has teammates like Prince and Sylvia Fowles to play alongside.

"They're amazing because they make my job extremely easy," she said. "Instead of forcing the situation, I usually just let the game come to me. They're always on the floor doing their thing so if I just contribute my part, we'll be a good team."

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