August 4, 2022 

Kayla Thornton is the glue of the Dallas Wings

'She doesn't care about anything else but winning'

There are some games when a player has the hot hand. Dallas Wings forward Kayla Thornton was having one of those nights against the Atlanta Dream on July 30. She shot 9-for-11 from the field as she notched her career-high 21 points. Thornton told The Next that she scored when she had to score and that she likes to be an overall player.

“Whatever needs to be done. If I am open I am going to shoot it; whatever the defense gives me, that is what I am going to do,” Thornton said.

The seven-year veteran made her way by being a defensive threat and she continues to improve her offensive game each season. Thornton is a pillar on the team and has been leading by example. Head coach Vickie Johnson said her forward is the glue of the team. She said she plays hard, with high energy and does not take any plays off. 


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“I just love who she is as a person and how she sacrificed on and off the court for her teammates and the betterment of this organization and this team,” Johnson said. “She doesn’t care about anything else but winning, so I love that about her.”

It was not easy for the former University of Texas at El Paso Miner to land a spot on a WNBA roster. She went undrafted in 2014, then had a short stint with the Washington Mystics in 2015, where she was waived after ten games. In 2017, Dallas invited her to training camp; the rest is history. She made an immediate impact on the team with her defensive presence and is a vocal leader on the court.

Wings’ guard Allisha Gray said they have conversations all of the time about defensive schemes and how they want to achieve their goals defensively every night. She said Thornton is her best friend on the team and that being on the court with her just makes you want to work harder.

“KT is just that player that does everything that we need. She impacts the game in many ways other than scoring,” the former South Carolina Gamecock said. “Every person she guards is taller than her. It just shows how strong and how committed she is on defense.”

In a league with only 144 roster spots, it is tough to stay in the league and play on the same team. In Dallas, after each season, the players meet with the coaches to discuss what they need to work on when they play overseas. Thornton said she works on and tries to add different things to her game so that the following year she comes out better.

“The game is evolving. There is always a new player, always a new face that comes into the league, so you got to make sure that you stay on top of your game, add more and you make sure you are consistent in this league,” Thornton said.


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Thornton told The Next three things she would like to accomplish while playing in the league.

“I want to get Defensive Player of the year, of course, win a championship. I want to, once I leave the game, have an impact on somebody. That they can look and say, ‘Okay, this is the type of player I want to be like and she is the perfect example of that.”

One of the new faces in the league this season is the Wings’ first-round draft pick, Veronica Burton. The guard was drafted seventh to bring depth to the point guard position and to help strengthen the defense. Burton said Thornton is one of the most vocal players on the team and that she is a very reliable individual on and off the court.

“She’s especially helped me throughout my process of coming into the WNBA. She and Allisha Gray have both taken me under their wings and have helped me tremendously. She’s also just a player that will do whatever she needs to do to help the team, whether it’s scoring, rebounding, effort, or defense. Whatever it may be, she’s always willing to do the little things that might not always get the glory, and at the end of the day, that’s what you want in a teammate,” Burton said.

“She’s had a tremendous impact on me. More off the court than anything. Just the type of person she is and the type of leader that she’s been to me and just some things with life too. She’s very strong in her faith and that’s something that’s very important to me, too, so that’s been helpful. Just a lot of little things, she’s definitely been paving the way for me.”


The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.


Thornton’s defensive prowess will be needed as the Wings try to secure a spot in the playoffs. Dallas has a four-game homestand beginning with the Las Vegas Aces and the Indiana Fever and concluding with two matchups against the New York Liberty. Thornton can be relied upon to do whatever it takes to get those wins for Dallas, whether it is on offense or defense.

Written by Arie Graham

Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.

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