It’s not every day that a player you coached gets drafted into the WNBA, but for Princeton women’s basketball head coach Carla Berube, it’s starting to become routine.
On Monday night, former Ivy League Player of the Year Abby Meyers ’22 was selected No. 11 overall by the Dallas Wings. With Meyers’ selection, Princeton became the first Ivy League school to have two players drafted in the first round, with Meyers joining Bella Alarie ’20. Meyers builds on the already impressive legacy she left at Princeton, which included a career-high 29 points in the program’s second NCAA tournament win and a single-season scoring record, with 538 points in 2021–22.
Like most of the women’s basketball world, Berube thought she’d have until the second round to hear Meyers’ name called — just enough time to get home from coaching third graders. But the Dallas Wings had other ideas.
“As I was walking out of the gym, I was getting bombarded with text messages that she was taken eleventh, and that was very, very exciting,” Berube told The Daily Princetonian — and you could all but hear her smile through the phone.
Screaming, crying, and ‘a little bit of everything’: Meyers' first round pick was a surprise to many, but a shock to none
Long before Meyers officially joined the 2023 WNBA Draft pool, she’d been projected in the middle of the pack — right around the mid-second round. But a perfect storm was brewing that would boost her into the first round come Draft night.
In fact, the Wings’ No. 11 pick was so unexpected that it elicited a chorus of gasps from the attendees on the Draft floor and caught Meyers, who was at home watching with family and friends, completely off guard.
“We were just sitting on the couch, getting all comfortable [since] it was going to the eleventh pick,” Meyers told Big 10 Today. “We figured we’d maybe wait five or six more picks [before] getting nervous.”
But as WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert walked up to the podium to announce the eleventh pick in the first round, Meyers’ world turned upside down. All of a sudden, the scene was complete chaos.
“I screamed, I cried, I did a little bit of everything, I went through all the emotions,” said Meyers. “It was just good to be surrounded by family and friends in that moment; I'm just grateful for the opportunity that Dallas has given me.”
Soon enough, Meyers’ former teammate, Alarie, who had been drafted to the Wings at No. 5 in 2020, would be at her door. Alarie, who also calls Bethesda, Maryland home, had heard the news and brought plenty of Wings merch with her.
“I never thought I'd hear those words, that I’d be a pro,” said Meyers. “But I think that’s what’s so great about the Draft — you never know what’s going to happen at the end of the day. You just take what you get and you roll with it, so that’s what I’m gonna do.”
A couple states away, the celebration for Meyers’ selection was just as strong. For Berube, who says she’d been receiving calls from WNBA general managers about Meyers since her senior year at Princeton, the first round pick brought more excitement than surprise.
“That’s the caliber of player that we have here Princeton and in the Ivy League. We all know that the Ivy League is just getting better and better and more competitive,” Berube told the ‘Prince.’
“Now having coached Bella and Abby, two first rounders, it’s pretty amazing. I feel very fortunate to have that, and I think my staff feels the same way — the team was incredibly excited for her last night,” she added.
‘A big green check mark’: How Meyers fits the bill for the Dallas Wings
The first thing to know about getting drafted into the WNBA is that nothing is guaranteed. Unlike the NBA, which often shuttles rookies to and from its development G League, it’s exceptionally hard to make, and stay on, a WNBA roster. Each team has just 12 spots, and few teams have a full roster all season long. Any player, no matter where they’re drafted, can be cut.
Yet, even though the odds are tough, Meyers has plenty going for her. For one, her game not only translated to Maryland and the Big 10, but improved along the way. Meyers says the opportunity to play in the Power 5 has helped her prove her versatility and ability to adapt to the demands of whichever level she’s at. Though she’d played against tougher competition during Princeton's non-conference seasons, taking on the nation’s best day in and day out, and delivering when it mattered most, meant more eyes on Meyers and more opportunities to prove her abilities.
“[Maryland] gave me the exposure, the spotlight,” Meyers told Big 10 Today on Tuesday. “[It allowed me] to prove to myself and everyone else that I can compete at this level. I can change, I can be versatile, and I can compete.”
Her leadership and understanding of the game was another elevating factor for Meyers — in fact, it’s already part of her WNBA story. Dallas Wings President Greg Bibb told media after the Draft that Meyers’ interview with the team was one of the best he’d ever seen in his time interviewing draftees. For Bibb and the Wings’ staff, it was part of what separated Meyers from the rest of the Draft.
“I mean, it just blew our collective socks off, in terms of the interview we had with her,” Bibb said. “That really helped crystallize her place for us in that first round.”
Not to mention, Meyers' prospects were boosted by consistent scoring from two- and three-point range, as well as being relatively tall for her guard position, standing at 6’1”. Both factors made her a “big green checkmark” for the Wings, who, according to Bibb, prioritized both aspects when making picks.
Beyond her shooting, Meyers’ rebounding and defensive abilities could push her over the edge and onto the Wings’ roster come the end of training camp. With new head coach Latricia Trammell taking over, Dallas has made it clear they intend to become a defense-first team. It's an idea Meyers is no stranger to, with three years in a top-15 scoring defense under her belt. Few understand that aspect of Meyers' game better than Berube, who told the ‘Prince’ that Meyers had been set on improving her defense and her leadership since the day she met her.
“She always, every day, puts the work in. She's a sponge, wanting to learn as much as she could, and [getting] to the gym as many times as she could,” Berube said. “She really made amazing strides and became one of the best leaders we’ve ever had here.”
While she might not be in a leadership role on a roster that includes the likes of Arike Ogunbowale, Diamond DeShields, and Natasha Howard, Berube explained how Meyers’ understanding of the game and ability to seamlessly play both ends of the court could make her a welcome presence in Dallas:
“I think she's going to be someone that can hopefully make an impact right away,” Berube told the ‘Prince.’ “I think people don't put as much stock into the way she could defensively rebound the basketball but it makes just a huge, huge impact.”
“I'm excited to see her putting all that together, and I agree that her work ethic is amazing. Abby just wants to get better and make her teams better, and she certainly puts in the work,” she added.
With a fadeaway jumper that just won’t quit and a steadily growing assist profile, Meyers could become the facilitating guard Dallas needs to complement their frontcourt, which features some of the best forwards in the WNBA. But getting them the ball in just the right way, being ready to receive a kick out pass, and fitting into the defensive flow may just be how Meyers helps Dallas spread their Wings.
WNBA training camp will begin on April 30, and Dallas will have two preseason games (against the Chicago Sky on May 5, and the Indiana Fever on May 13). The Wings currently have 18 players heading to training camp, and will need to cut down to 12 before May 18. Should Meyers be cut from the Wings, she could be picked up by another team throughout the regular season, which tips off on May 19.
Isabel Rodrigues is a senior writer for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
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