The Washington Mystics only waived one player on Wednesday, but they’ll temporarily be down a few more as the injury bug struck again.
Rookie Sam Fuehring was the player who received unhappy news yesterday, about halfway through the team’s three-week training camp. She was the second player cut, following former Kentucky guard Maci Morris, and Fuehring’s release trims the Mystics’ roster to 15 players. The team has until May 23 to announce its final 12-woman roster.
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Fuehring was the Mystics’ third-round pick in 2019, drafted at No. 34 out of Louisville after averaging 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a senior. She was part of the winningest class in Louisville basketball history with 123 wins and helped the Cardinals to two ACC regular-season titles, one ACC Tournament title, three Sweet Sixteen appearances, and one Final Four in her four-year career. In Friday night’s exhibition game against the Minnesota Lynx, Fuehring had two points, two rebounds, one assist, and one block in 14 minutes.
As a Mystic, Fuehring was briefly reunited with second-year Mystics forward and former Cardinal Myisha Hines-Allen. Louisville fans had hoped Fuehring could replicate Hines-Allen’s path as one of the rare players picked outside the first round to make a WNBA roster. But in the end, the Mystics’ depth chart at forward was just too deep, led by All-Stars Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman. In a Tweet on Wednesday afternoon, Fuehring thanked the Mystics for being “so patient and so kind” and declared that now is “only the beginning” of her professional career:
In the same press release, the Mystics also announced that guard Aerial Powers suffered “a left gluteal injury” against the Lynx. She is the team’s second wing player to officially be relegated to the sideline in under a week after rookie Kiara Leslie’s knee surgery, which the team announced just ahead of Friday’s game. Luckily, Powers’ injury looks to be relatively minor; the Mystics expect her to return in 2-4 weeks.
The injury comes at a particularly inopportune time for Powers, who was looking to settle into her role with the Mystics after joining the team late last season via trade. In three WNBA seasons, Powers has averaged 9.0 points in 17.7 minutes per game. She had one of the most productive stretches of her career in nine regular-season games with the Mystics last season, shooting 44% on 3-pointers and posting a scorching 21.7 Player Efficiency Rating (the league average is 15.0). She was less productive in the playoffs, but will aim to return to her regular-season form when she debuts this season.
Sources also reported that Natasha Cloud, Washington’s expected starter at point guard, suffered a hand injury at practice on Wednesday afternoon. The team has not commented on Cloud’s health and it is unclear how serious the injury may be. If she is forced to miss time alongside Leslie and Powers, head coach Mike Thibault will likely rely even more on guard Kristi Toliver and wing Ariel Atkins to run the team’s offense. Third-year guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough is also likely to see more minutes, and the team can also employ a bigger lineup to capitalize on its enviable post depth.
The Mystics will play their final exhibition game this Friday, May 17, against Atlanta and open the regular season eight days later at Connecticut. The injuries offer the Mystics some unwanted early adversity, but the team is unlikely to lower its stated goal of winning the 2019 WNBA championship after coming up short in the Finals last fall.
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