Members of the Lynx front office and coaching staff were in the draft war room Monday when new prospective owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore were touring the practice facility.
So Cheryl Reeve invited them in.
“We had some fun in there for a little over a half hour, just kind of talking about what we were doing and a little bit about the Lynx,” said Reeve, the Lynx head coach and general manager. “Just exchanged ideas.”
They talked to Lore about his entrepreneurship. Lore explained his efforts to elevate women and the challenges women face in the entrepreneurial realm.
“What we learned is there are common themes in the ways women are marginalized, whether it’s in sports or in business, so that was a really cool connection,” Reeve said.
With Rodriguez, the conversation centered on the selection of players. The staff informed him what their draft processes were. Rodriguez shared a bit about his experience in Major League Baseball and some of the challenges for players. They all talked about the importance of selecting good people.
“I don’t know a lot about him as a teammate, etc.,” Reeve said, “but I did think that he really had an understanding of what we were going through and the importance of what we were doing.”
Reeve said she and her staff did some “educating” on the Lynx.
“I can’t tell you that they knew a lot about it,” Reeve said. “But I can tell you when they walked out of there, they knew a helluva lot more, and I think they were impressed.”
The Lynx’s signing of undrafted free-agent Asheika Alexander was important because it was the franchise’s first acquisition of a player who attended an HBCU.
“We think it’s really important that our league gets more involved in amplifying HBCU players in terms of opportunities,” Reeve said. “We know that that’s what this life is about.”
Alexander played for Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma. Langston’s coach is Elaine Powell. Reeve coached Powell in the WNBA back when she was an assistant coach in Detroit. Powell and Reeve were close back then, and have since stayed in touch.
The Lynx had an additional training camp invite out to another player from an HBCU, but that player decided to return to school.
“I told our group that I wanted to be sure that an HBCU player was a part of our team this year,” Reeve said. “HBCU schools don’t get enough recognition, and we felt we wanted to give an opportunity to Asheika, who we felt was a really good basketball player. So we’re excited for her to be in camp. She’ll be arriving on Sunday, and I think she’s pretty darn excited, and I think more of us should be doing this.”
The Lynx dealt 2020 first-round draft pick Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan to Seattle earlier this year. Reeve wasn’t sure how Herbert-Harrigan, a 6-foot-2 forward, would have fit into her team’s 2021 rotation.
So, in the draft, Minnesota selected a 6-foot-2 forward in Tennessee’s Rennia Davis. How do you explain that?
For one, Reeve didn’t actively shop Herbert-Harrigan this offseason. Seattle approached Minnesota with a rare deal — a first-round pick for a reserve player. Secondly, Davis might be a better fit for this Lynx roster given her skill set.
“We think Kiki is a good player, but I think for Rennia, her ability, I think she’s a little more equipped ball handling-wise. … She’s a much better rebounder,” Reeve said. “Position of strength on our team is certainly three, four, five, and that’s why I’ve shared with Bridget (Carleton), being able to play the two was going to be really valuable for our team. Aerial Powers, (Kayla) McBride, interchangeable at two-three. We just have a great deal of versatility, and we’ll see how it plays out.
“But I do feel like we could legitimately play Rennia at the small forward spot, whereas Kiki was going to take some time to grow into that. I feel like Rennia is a little bit more ready ball handling-wise and just being able to make plays off the bounce. So it wasn’t a case that we were seeking to replace the position, it just fell that way.”