MINNEAPOLIS – Cohesion as a unit is a trait that goes hand-in-hand with a championship-caliber team. For the Indiana Fever, that cohesiveness is evident from Tamika Catchings down to the end of the bench.
But for Briann January, Shavonte Zellous and Marissa Coleman, their friendship extends far longer than just the few seasons they’ve played together. All three were first round draft picks in the 2009 WNBA Draft.
Before the three were teammates, however, they were opponents on numerous occasions – be it overseas or on opposing teams in college and the WNBA. When they entered the draft together in 2009, they got to know each other quite well.
So, when Coleman joined the Zellous, January and the Fever two years ago, it was a reunion of sorts.
“Zellous messaged me – well actually both of them did – after I signed,” Coleman said, “and just said they were excited that I was going to be a part of the team. Last year was kind of like a transition period for me, and they definitely were two of the ones that helped me out a lot.”
After a year together in Indiana, all three spent time playing overseas in the same country. That provided even more opportunity for three of the Fever’s most important contributors to grow as competitors and friends.
“All three of us played in Turkey last year,” Coleman said, “so we got to see each other a lot and hang out a lot, so I think that’s kind of where we all got pretty close just being overseas and spending a lot of time on off days together.”
Now, as a member of an Indiana Fever squad that finds itself two games away from the ultimate prize of a WNBA championship, they’re enjoying the privilege of experiencing the transition from the Lin Dunn era to the Stephanie White era – one that is already off to a phenomenal start.
“Those are my girls,” guard Briann January said. “We’re pretty close. Especially Shavonte [Zellous] and I. We’ve been on this team six years together. We’ve grown in the league together. We’ve kind of become cornerstones for this franchise, I believe. [Coleman], we’ve kind of just known each other through the draft, and it’s really nice to have them on our team. Just to have them – we’ve kind of gone through this process and this transition together. So, to be able to be here and enjoy these moments, it makes it even better.”
When asked what it means to be able to play with each other — close friends working towards the same goal of a championship on a tight knit team — all three smiled from ear to ear.
“This is my family,” Zellous said. “We really are close. We’re a core group. In 2009 we came into the draft, so we kind of knew each other – just off the draft, just hanging around each other. Bringing [Marissa Coleman] here two years ago just helped our perimeter offense. We’ve built that pretty good, and it’s working out pretty good.”
“Being familiar with each other, [Zellous] and I played against each other in college,” added Coleman. “We joke about it and talk about it all the time, just us all being the same year and how good we’re doing in the league. Just having a lot of fun. It’s a really fun group to be around.”