May 28, 2023 

Dorka Juhász is a rookie with veteran poise for Minnesota Lynx

Juhász leaving a big impression quickly in Minnesota

If there’s a path back to championship splendor for the Minnesota Lynx and head coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve, it’s unlikely to be straight and narrow. An optimistic view of such an undertaking would be to call it a scenic route.

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While it’s impossible to rate any long-term moves the Lynx have made just three games into the season, the early returns have held some encouraging signs, even with the team sitting at 0-3.

In April’s WNBA Draft, Minnesota may have gotten two of the league’s stars of tomorrow in first-round picks Diamond Miller and Maïa Hirsch. But its second-round pick, Hungarian center Dorka Juhász out of UConn, has impressed a lot of people in her first six weeks in the WNBA and possesses a veteran’s demeanor despite her rookie status.

“What you saw tonight has kind of been her way. She’s a very steady, mature player. Never too high, never too low. She’s the definition of that,” Reeve said after Minnesota’s preseason opener on May 5, when Juhász posted a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. “You rarely see if she gets rattled. I don’t know if she’s been nervous yet. She might be really nervous. I have no idea. She doesn’t show it. She’s big, [and] she’s still learning. Learning about personnel, learning about schemes.

“These players just played for years in college a certain way, then you get a brand-new team, and Dorka has been really receptive to the information and able to apply it.”

Minnesota Lynx forward Dorka Juhász attempts a right-handed layup as no defender gets a hand up to contest.
Minnesota Lynx forward Dorka Juhász drives to the hoop during a preseason game against the Washington Mystics at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 5, 2023. (Photo credit: John McClellan | The Next)

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It isn’t the first time the 6’5, 23-year-old post player has had to pick up a ton of new information quickly. Juhász has played on a number of Hungarian national teams, including an impressive showing at the 2017 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup under coach Judit Balogh. Juhász was Hungary’s leading rebounder in the tournament, grabbing 9.4 boards per game to go with 11.7 points per contest (second on the team).

She also played as an amateur for PEAC-Pécs, a professional team in her hometown of Pécs, Hungary, prior to playing collegiately, first at Ohio State for Kevin McGuff and then transferring to UConn for Geno Auriemma, which included the tutelage of longtime associate head coach Chris Dailey.

“You talk about different systems, but also different coaching. I have [had] so many different ways of coaching that I think have helped me a lot, [helped me] to be ready for whatever, [ready for] whoever is my coach,” Juhász said at Minnesota’s preseason media day on May 10. “Different systems, different mentalities on defense on offense. I’ve seen a lot of stuff and learned a lot. I’m still learning, obviously; coming from college to the WNBA, you still have to adjust and learn a lot.

“I’m always all ears and trying to soak up every single thing that Coach [Reeve] says.”

Reeve cited Juhász’s maturity and experience as reasons for drafting her with No. 16 overall pick when she met with the media on draft night. Reeve saw her as a player who could help raise the competition in training camp this season with the potential to contribute more down the road.

“[Dorka’s] a skilled post player that can pass and rebound. Those are the two things I’d say that stand out to us,” Reeve said back in April. “She is a long-range, I’d say long 2[-point] shooter at her best right now. She’s got good footwork. I know [UConn associate head coach] Chris Dailey works incredibly hard with the post players at UConn, so I have an appreciation for the things that I see Chris was able to do with her. We see real potential there. We also see a mature player who has things you need in a WNBA training camp.” 

Through three regular-season games, the returns on the stat sheet have been modest. She didn’t score in either of Minnesota’s last two games after putting up five in the season opener. Add in seven boards, three steals, three assists, and one block in just over 35 minutes of playing time and you’ve reached the extent of her Basketball Reference page.

Yet Juhász has featured in some of the more impressive runs of play for Minnesota and flashed glimpses of the versatile, rim running post player the Lynx hope she grows into.

“Certainly, Dorka has an agility about her that’s I think a bit deceptive. Her switches on the perimeter, her [defense] one-on-one,” Reeve said after the season opener. “[She] had that nice block [on Evans]. Dorka’s just confident. She’s a confident, mature person.”

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In the aforementioned season opener on May 19 against Chicago, her defensive potential on the perimeter was on display when she blocked a 3-point attempt from 26 feet out, which turned into a 3-pointer for Bridget Carleton on the other end of the floor. She also got her first WNBA bucket on a strong putback in the paint that also drew a foul on Chicago’s Alanna Smith

On May 23 against Atlanta, she showed her ability to infiltrate passing lanes, intercepting two passes and igniting transition offense.

“In training camp when I wasn’t for sure on the team, I [think] going day by day is what helped me,” Juhász said after a recent practice. “Not really worrying about whether or not I’m going to make the team, but every day come in and work hard, grind, make sure I’m being the best teammate I can [be], and just make sure I get better every single day. That’s what I do still.

“There’s a lot of games and I know you have to shift your focus to the next thing [and then] the next thing, but what’s not changing is coming in here and playing hard every single day and just getting better.”

From the slopes of the Mecsek mountain range all the way to Ohio State, UConn and now the Minnesota Lynx, Juhász’s basketball journey has spanned continents and multiple legendary coaching staffs.

And while it’s still early in her time with the Lynx, there are plenty of reasons for Minnesota fans to believe Juhász will play a role in this team clearing those hurdles in 2023 and beyond.

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Written by Terry Horstman

Terry Horstman is a Minneapolis-based writer and covers the Minnesota Lynx beat for The Next. He previously wrote about the Minnesota Timberwolves for A Wolf Among Wolves, and his other basketball writing has been published by Flagrant Magazine, HeadFake Hoops, Taco Bell Quarterly, and others. He's the creative nonfiction editor for the sports-themed literary magazine, the Under Review.


  1. RM Williams on May 30, 2023 at 5:30 pm

    Dorka Juhász is not someone the Lynx want to give up on. She has the skills and the work ethic. It will be an adjustment period getting used to the pace of the WNBA and finding her spot. When she does, more rebounds, second chance points, and threes. Remember, Kelsey Plum took a while. Amanda Zahui B. took some time. Lexie Hull had a rough first year and she’s back. It’s all about investing over the long haul. The Lynx will not be complete for a while, and putting the pieces together takes time. Dorka is worth the time and investment.

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