Twins Reunited With Storm
When Roneeka Hodges joined the Seattle Storm late last week, she was asked to quickly adjust not only to a new coaching system but also new teammates. Hodges missed the opening week and a half of her first Storm training camp while wrapping up her season in Spain, but there was one player with whom Hodges had an immediate connection - her twin sister Doneeka Lewis. Hodges and Lewis (who took her husband's name after marrying in 2004) have been reunited with the Storm during camp, becoming the first set of WNBA twins ever to play on the some roster.
"That's been great," Hodges says. "It's been so long since we've actually been playing together on the same team. It kind of reminds me of old teams. It's always a good feeling to have the closest person in your life near you every day."
Naturally, playing together is nothing new for the sisters. They grew up together on the basketball courts, with Lewis saying that Hodges - the taller and more physical of the two - always used to beat her playing one-on-one. Eventually, the New Orleans natives developed their games to the point where they went together to LSU. By that point, they had developed complementary games - Hodges playing forward and using her slashing ability to get to the hoop while also contributing on the glass, Lewis playing in the backcourt and stretching the defense with her shooting ability.
Injuries and circumstances allowed Lewis to take a more prominent role at LSU. She was a Second Team All-SEC pick as a sophomore, and was the second-leading scorer as a senior on a Tigers squad that made it to the Final Four. Hodges was a key role player her first two seasons, but saw her playing time cut when Seimone Augustus arrived at LSU before her junior year. At season's end, Hodges decided to transfer to Florida State, separating the sisters for the first time in their basketball careers.
"That was really, really difficult, to leave her," says Hodges. "At the same time, I had to make a better decision for myself and for my career. At that point, it wasn't necessarily about her. It was what was best for me."
The move worked out. Lewis was drafted by Los Angeles in the second round of the 2004 WNBA Draft. A year later, having averaged 19.2 points and earned All-ACC First Team honors in her lone season at Florida State, Hodges joined her sister in the league as a second-round pick by the Houston Comets. They became the third set of twins to both play in the WNBA, joining Heidi Burge Horton and Heather (Burge) Quella and Coco and Kelly Miller. On June 15, 2005, they faced each other for the first time as pros, a special moment.
"Just the thought that we were both on the court together and our family was there watching," recalls Lewis, "it was just an unbelievable experience for us to be able to accomplish the goals that we set when we were kids."
The two sisters have played against each other seven times in their careers.
"When she was playing in L.A. and I was playing in Houston," adds Hodges, "our family would come to the game and they would be mad at me if I blocked her shot or made a shot on her."
Now, the sisters have gone from opponents to teammates. Lewis joined the Storm in July 2007, signed initially to a pair of seven-day contracts and ultimately for the remainder of the season. Hodges came to Seattle in February. Selected by the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Expansion Draft, Hodges was subsequently traded to the Storm with the fourth overall pick in exchange for the eighth pick and Iziane Castro Marques. Both twins were playing overseas when they got the news they would be reunited.
"I was in Italy and she called me on the phone in the middle of the night," says Lewis. "The day before, she called me and we were trying to figure out what was gong on. She was going to Atlanta. Then she was like, 'I'm going to be traded.' We were trying to figure out which team. We were so off, never thought Seattle. I just stood there like, 'You're joking.' I had to read it on the Internet.
"I thought it (playing together in the WNBA) was very unlikely. I guess I never thought about it that much because I never thought it was possible. The day that I found out it was possible, I was kind of like, 'No, it's not true.' It's one of those things I've got to see it to believe it."
During the past week, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler has frequently used the twins in tandem in the backcourt for the Storm. Lewis moved to the point-guard position with the Sparks and has primarily played at the point during her WNBA career. Hodges, meanwhile, continues to play on the wing, allowing them to play together.
"When I'm on the court with her, it's just natural," Lewis says. "She tells me I play more comfortable when I'm playing with her - she tries to psyche me up a little bit. I know her strengths. I've played with her, watched her play. I just have a good feel with her. I guess it has to be like that with everybody, being the point guard, but her in particular - I have a good connection with her, I'd say."
There are no guarantees for either of the sisters, part of a crowded competition for roster spots in the backcourt. Lewis is vying for the backup point guard spot along with rookie Kimberly Beck and incumbent Tanisha Wright, while Hodges is one of a number of potential reserves on the wing. For now, the twins are enjoying the unique opportunity.
"We'll see how it goes," says Lewis. "It's definitely going to be fun."