April 25, 2021 

Fever finalize 2021 training camp roster

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Indiana invites a blend of returning players, free agents and rookies to compete for a final roster spot

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Kelsey Mitchell #0 of the Indiana Fever drives to the basket against the Dallas Wings on July 31, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Indiana Fever announced its training camp roster on Thursday, inviting 20 players to compete for the final 12 spots. The full list is as follows:

Returnees: Julie Allemand, Lauren Cox, Kathleen Doyle, Teaira McCowan, Kelsey Mitchell, Tiffany Mitchell, Victoria Vivians

Free Agent Signings: Jessica Breland, Danielle Robinson, Jantel Lavender*, Lindsay Allen, Chanelle Molina, Bernadett Hatar

Rookies: Kysre Gondrezick, Aaliyah Wilson, Trinity Baptiste, Chelsey Perry, Unique Thompson, Maya Caldwell, Florencia Chagas

*Acquired via trade in 2020, but missed the season due to recovery from foot surgery.

Allemand, Lavender, Hatar and Tiffany Mitchell will all be late arrivals to training camp, while Chagas will begin the season on the suspended list.

The Fever also finalized its coaching staff for the season, led by Marianne Stanley in her second year at the helm. She’ll be assisted by Steve Smith, who also returns for his second season with the Fever, as well as Vicki Hall and Jhared Simpson.

With 19 players (due to Chagas’ suspension) battling it out for 12 spots in the final roster, the Fever have facilitated what’s sure to be an extremely competitive training camp. So, who makes it to opening night in New York on May 14?

Returnees

All but one of the returnees are practically guaranteed to make the final roster, as they all played key roles on the 2020 team that competed in the WNBA bubble.

Kelsey Mitchell — the undisputed leader of this team — will look to build on a breakout season in 2020, when she averaged career highs in points per game (17.9), field goal percentage (44.8), three-point percentage (38.9) and free throw percentage (84.9). Having her physically present in Indianapolis for the full duration of training camp is a major boost to the roster’s chemistry and should set the tone for the intensity of the roster competition.

Cox should also see a bigger role in her sophomore season after Natalie Achonwa departed in free agency. Cox played 13.1 minutes per game as a rookie, showing flashes of success with her post game and mid-range jump shots, but will now step in as the primary backup center to McCowan.

The only player who may feel on edge about her status for the final roster may be Victoria Vivians. Vivians has played just six games over the last two seasons due to various knee injuries, tearing her ACL in 2019 and her meniscus last year.

Vivians played a significant role on the 2018 roster, when she saw action in all 34 games, averaged 8.9 points per game and shot 39.9 percent from three-point range. But her susceptibility to getting hurt has to cause the Fever front office some level of concern, particularly after bringing in a plethora of young talent this offseason.

Free Agent Signings

Breland, Robinson and Lavender are likely all locks to make the roster. They’re veterans that can effectively fill the voids left by departing players such as Candice Dupree and Erica Wheeler. They also infuse the Fever with postseason experience, a key element to General Manager Tamika Catchings’ “championship culture.”

Allen is also a strong contender to make the final list of 12 — Catchings raved about the point guard at her introductory press conference in February, praising her experience and professionalism. With Wheeler gone, Allen provides an experienced and poised presence as a third-string point guard behind Allemand and Robinson.

Molina and Hatar, both training camp contract additions signed in recent months, are unlikely to make the final list. Molina went undrafted in 2020 after playing four years at Washington State, while Hatar, 26, has several years of experience playing in Hungary. Both could utilize the training camp period to make a lasting impression on not just the Fever, but other teams around the league seeking an 11th or 12th player for their roster.

Rookies

The Fever were the busiest team in the WNBA on draft night, selecting seven players — the most during a single draft in franchise history.

The team’s fourth overall pick, Kysre Gondrezick out of West Virginia, is a very strong contender to make the final 12. Catchings spoke highly, and extensively, of Gondrezick’s willingness to play for the franchise, ability to play multiple guard positions, and how her work ethic will successfully blend into the team’s culture.

First round picks, especially top-10 picks, typically have a solid chance to land on their team’s regular season roster. It’d be silly to anticipate any different with Gondrezick.

Indiana also traded for Aaliyah Wilson on draft night, acquiring the Texas A&M guard in exchange for Kennedy Burke. Though Wilson is a fringe contender for the 12th spot on the team, Catchings and Stanley demonstrated a clear desire to have her compete at their training camp.

With limited spots remaining, it’s difficult to see how other rookies make enough of an impression to steal a roster spot from a more experienced contender.

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