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Featured: Devereaux Peters
There was a certain set of ingredients the Minnesota Lynx were looking for in making their third overall selection in this spring’s WNBA Draft. The Lynx wanted an accountable, sure-handed player who will work hard, learn from the veterans around her and earn her minutes as the season unfolded.
What they got in Devereaux Peters was spot on. The rookie forward from Notre Dame is quickly becoming known for having the internal drive that is found throughout the organization. Stats seem to matter far less than doing her job correctly, and when she doesn’t meet her own expectations on the court—not pulling down a rebound or missing a shot—her determination shows through.
“She’s harder on herself than I ever could be,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “My experience in coaching is when you have that, that self-initiative and that pride, good things happen to you. And I think Dev is a good example of that.”
After a month in the WNBA, Peters is learning what it takes to not only compete at this level but do so with the pressures of winning each night. She’s got a championship-caliber team around her and a group of inside players who can help mold her into the type of forward she’ll resemble over the course of her career.
The little things are still being put in place. She’s learning which angles to take on the floor both defensively and while moving the ball, she’s finding the differences in physicality of getting the ball at the elbow in college as opposed to the WNBA and, at 170 pounds, is sometimes giving up 40-50 pounds to her defender in the process.
But she’s got veterans around her who Peters says she watches daily. She sees the power and aggressiveness of Rebekkah Brunson and the finesse of Taj McWilliams-Franklin.
“It’s been a fun month and I’ve been learning from every aspect,” Peters said. “Offense, defense, just from how hard [the Lynx] work every day in practice. They really come hard every day like it’s a game, and I think that’s why they play so well in the game.”
That’s an important part of being a rookie—learning from the veterans around her and not getting swayed by the ups and downs that can come with being young and playing at the professional level.
There will be games, Reeve said, where Peters will have a breakout performance like she did Thursday against New York. She scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench, ending the game as the team’s second leading scorer. But in her next game on Saturday, she committed five turnovers and scored three points.
“That’s the life of a rookie—every game is different,” Reeve said. “But Dev’s the type that the 18 points means absolutely nothing to her. She’ll probably tell you about the times that she missed coverage defensively or didn’t get a rebound she wanted, which makes her so great. Teammates love playing with her. She’s got a fire in her belly that’s fun to be around.”
Part of that comes from a winning culture at Notre Dame, where she was part of two teams that reached the NCAA championship game. During her junior and senior seasons, the Irish went a combined 66-12 and took runner-up in the NCAA tournament, giving her a baseline for the type of success she’s now experiencing with the Lynx.
When she played at Notre Dame, she saw each Big East team’s best each night. She said it’s a similar feeling in Minnesota—and the excitement around the club only fuels that fire. When she’s out and about in the community, Peters said the outpouring of support toward the team has been equally palpable.
“Fans are coming up to me all the time telling me how glad they are I’m here,” Peters said. “It’s just a warm feeling when fans come up and you say things like that. It’s such a nice city. The people are so nice and they accept me with open arms. It’s been a great time these past couple months.”
On the court, she’s averaging 5.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.3 minutes per game. With the team returning 10 players from last season, playing time wasn’t necessarily a given in her rookie year. Reeve said she wasn’t sure how much playing time Peters would get this season, but she continues to learn and prove her value on the court. Now with center Jess Adair sidelined until likely after the Olympic break, Peters could be called upon even more.
Brunson said the focus she’s shown in practice hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“She really pays attention to the things that we say, and she pays attention to the small details and she works hard,” Brunson said. “She’s always going to have a spot here as long as she continues to work hard. I think that’s one of her best attributes.”
Whatever role she’s asked to fill, the Lynx are confident Peters will deliver. No question Peters is ready to step in wherever necessary.
“I’m just prepared for whatever happens,” Peters said. “If that means more minutes, that means more minutes. Whatever happens, I’m prepared for anything.”
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