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Williams, Mabrey ready for new chapters with Sky

Chicago Sky Courtney Williams - Getty Images

Courtney Williams felt wanted. Marina Mabrey is excited to play in a city where her family is.

Williams and Mabrey were the two biggest off-season additions for the Chicago Sky as they head into the 2023 season with a very different roster than the one that ended the previous campaign.

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Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot and Azura Stevens all departed as free agents and Allie Quigley announced she was taking the year off from basketball. Kahleah Copper, Dana Evans and Ruthy Hebard are the only players remaining from the 2021 championship-winning roster.

With so many players moving on, Williams was a key addition for the Sky during free agency. The 28-year-old started all 34 games she appeared in last season for the Connecticut Sun, who lost in the WNBA Finals to the Las Vegas Aces. She averaged 11.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 2022.

“I think I felt wanted,” Williams told of her decision to sign in Chicago. “I hopped on a phone call, Kahleah [Copper] reached out to me. I talked to a couple of people and I think just the energy that was given to me was like, they really wanted me here.

“When you feel wanted, it feels good. So I had to rock with who gave me that feeling.”

Now heading into her eighth WNBA season with previous stops in Phoenix, Atlanta and Connecticut, the former All-Star cites her energy and basketball IQ as keys to her leadership style along with continuing to be vocal with her teammates.

Like Williams, Mabrey is also expected to be a leader for the Sky this season after being acquired in a massive four-team deal that included the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Dallas Wings with Chicago dealing away two first-round picks.

While Mabrey is ready for the new chapter of her WNBA career in Chicago, she is appreciative of her time in Dallas. An NCAA champion in 2018 with Notre Dame, the Belmar, New Jersey, product started her professional career off as a second-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2019. Seeing limited playing time as a rookie, she was acquired by the Wings in 2021 where she broke out as a player.

“I learned a lot,” said Mabrey of her three years with Dallas. “The majority of my growth was done there. But just them taking a chance on me as a rookie that didn’t play that much, didn’t know what to expect of me in this league. They traded for me and they gave me a chance so I’ll always be grateful for Dallas.

“I got to play a significant role, significant minutes and alongside people who were my friends off the court too, Arike [Ogunbowale] and Satou [Sabally], everybody, but they were my closest friends and just to be able to play with them and live in the city with them was a great time.

“I had so much fun there but also it was time for a new time in my career. So just appreciating everything I learned there from the guard position, also as a leader and defensively, just bringing over here and see what I can apply.”

The 26-year-old is fresh off winning Italian League MVP, Finals MVP, guard of the year and First Team All Italian League overseas with Famila Schio.

The Sky kick off their regular season May 19 against the Minnesota Lynx, the same team they will face Saturday afternoon in Toronto for preseason action. Both Williams and Mabrey were born and raised in the United States and are impressed that the first WNBA game being played in Canada was sold out within minutes.

“I think it says a lot,” said Williams. “They want to come out, they want to support, they want to see the game. It’s love when people are supporting women in anything that we do. So I’m excited about it.”

“I think people take it for granted,” said Mabrey. “You get so many things in America that you get to watch, especially as a little girl, and something to look up to, so it’s grateful to be able to see that at a young age. It gives you something to be motivated by, to be determined to reach this goal because you see other people do it.”