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All-Star Notebook: First-Timers Soak It In, “Showtime” Shoni Is Back and More from Friday

UNCASVILLE, CONN. — Twenty-two WNBA All-Stars took the court for practice and media day at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday for everything from layup lines to selfies and Snapchats.

Veterans Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings held court with reporters. Elena Delle Donne and Maya Moore answered questions from fans on social media.

But this year’s crop stood out not for the familiar faces, but the fresh ones.

Ten of those 22 players are participating in All-Star Weekend for the first time — an even five in the East and five in the West. They range from Washington Mystics center Emma Meesseman, a 22-year-old from Belgium, to Tulsa Shock forward Plenette Pierson, 33 and in the midst of her 15th WNBA season.

MORE: Meet the 10 First-Time All-Stars

“I was a little bit speechless. I found out before a game so I was like, ‘Oh. Okay!’” said Meesseman, who is averaging 13.0 points and 6.9 rebounds during a breakout third season. “It’s a great honor, of course. It’s something I never expected to reach in my career. Three years ago, I didn’t even expect to be here on a team.”

On Tuesday, before Pierson’s Shock hosted Meesseman’s Mystics in Tulsa, Shock head coach Fred Williams gathered his team at shootaround to announce the news about their veteran leader.

Pierson, a former Detroit Shock fixture who returned to the organization this season, was typically understated in her reaction.

“She’s not really gonna show much emotion,” said teammate and fellow All-Star Riquna Williams. “Maybe she went home and was in the mirror dancing or something, but in front of us she was like, ‘Thanks guys.'”

“It was just a culmination of my career,” Pierson said, “just saying that all your hard work and dedication has paid off.”

Time for an Encore?

The way Shoni Schimmel sees it, if the fans who vote want to see her in the All-Star Game, the least she can do is put on a show.

The Atlanta Dream guard, who lit up the All-Star stage in Phoenix with a record 29 points a year ago, is back as a starter for the Eastern Conference despite experiencing a sophomore slump, averaging 5.0 points in 15.1 minutes off the bench.

She understands as much as anybody why she is here. “It shows how much my fan support means,” said Schimmel, a Native American from Oregon with a huge Native American following. The people’s choice garnered 8,881 votes, trailing only leading vote-getter Elena Delle Donne in the East backcourt.

“It’s awesome. You just kind of run with it and embrace it. People like you because of who you are. That’s something that I don’t take for granted.”

Schimmel, who earned the nickname “Showtime” while playing at Louisville, said she’s been thinking about how to top last year, but “having fun is the main goal.” She isn’t the only one with a lot to live up to.

Last year’s All-Star Game was perhaps the best ever — the only of the 12 exhibitions to go to overtime. It also included scoring outbursts from Skylar Diggins and Maya Moore, Tamika Catchings’ game-winning bucket with 6.9 seconds remaining, and a Brittney Griner dunk.

All-Around All-Stars

If Saturday is a showcase of the WNBA’s finest on the court, All-Star Friday is a time to showcase some personality. And the 2015 All-Stars have it in spades.

While other players used the Twitter mirror for your everyday selfie, Lynx superstar Maya Moore turned her’s into a Wild West poster.

MORE: WNBA Stars Take Over Twitter and Instagram

On the lookout for a gunslinger… #WNBAAllStar #Wanted

A photo posted by wnba (@wnba) on

Back in the state where she won two NCAA championships with Geno Auriemma’s Huskies, Mystics center Stefanie Dolson a.k.a. “Big Mama Stef” took full advantage of her first All-Star experience.

She hosted #WNBALive — interviewing Delle Donne — showed off her dance moves and drawing skills and, don’t forget, can also shoot a little bit:

@bigmamastef with the half court shot during #WNBAAllStar practice!!

A video posted by wnba (@wnba) on

Brittany Griner was equally as versatile, beginning at the WNBA Fit Clinic on Friday morning:

https://instagram.com/p/5hcVfzi3Wd/?taken-by=wnba

https://instagram.com/p/5h1WM-C3cj/?taken-by=wnba