2023 WNBA Draft: Picks and highlights as Aliyah Boston goes No. 1 to Indiana Fever


Hot on the heels of the most-watched NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in history, the momentum continued Monday with the 2023 WNBA Draft at Spring Studios New York in Manhattan, where the Indiana Fever picked South Carolina star Aliyah Boston as the No. 1 overall pick.

Headlining the night were stars from the recent tournament, including  two starters from LSU’s championship-winning team, Alexis Morris and LaDazhia Williams, plus Monika Czinano of runner-up IowaBoston, whose No. 1-seeded South Carolina team lost to Iowa in the national semifinals, was one of five Gamecocks players drafted on Monday evening, along with Zia Cooke, Brea BealLaeticia Amihere and Victaria Saxton, all of whom advanced to three Final Fours and won the 2022 national title.

League Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced the first-round draft picks live, and the Fever held the top pick by virtue of winning the 2023 WNBA Draft Lottery last November. Last year, the Fever — which also had the No. 7 selection in the first round and took Indiana’s Grace Berger — became the first team in WNBA history to make four picks in the first round.

One name we didn’t see on Monday was Sedona Prince, who rescinded her decision to enter the draft. The WNBA announced the move last week, as Prince entered the NCAA transfer portal. On Saturday, the 22-year-old announced via social media that she would be “coming home” and playing for TCU next year. Last season, Prince had opted to play with the Ducks as a master’s student, but she missed playing entirely after undergoing surgery on a torn ligament in her elbow. At the time, she indicated her plans to pursue a professional career.

2023 WNBA Draft live updates and highlights:

On Her Turf provided live updates, highlights and round-by-round picks of the 2023 WNBA Draft, so read on to see how the evening unfolded. But we first started with a look at this year’s prospects on the Orange Carpet:

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Haley Jones brings standout Stanford resume, popular playlists and ‘wholesome excellence’ to 2023 WNBA Draft

First-round picks

Pick No. 1. Indiana Fever: As expected, South Carolina star Aliyah Boston is chosen as the overall No. 1 pick, as the Fever take advantage of having the first draft pick for for the first time in franchise history.

“It’s really special,” Boston told ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the pick. “I think a lot of people know my story, but my parents made a big sacrifice, allowing my sister and I to move away from home at the age of 12 and 14. And so to be able to see their hard work pay off, it’s just a blessing from God. … I’m just gonna continue to be who I am, continue to be that dominant person, be a leader on the court, and I’m just excited.”

Pick No. 2. Minnesota Lynx: With the second pick, the Lynx select Maryland’s Diamond Miller.

“Just because things are hard, doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it,” Miller told Rowe regarding playing two seasons ago with a fractured kneecap. “And I think I did that with that injury. And I’m just happy to be in this situation right now.”

Pick No. 3. Dallas Wings: Dallas picks Maddie Siegrist as the No. 3 pick, marking the highest selection for a Villanova player the draft.

“Consistency is something I’ve tried to pride myself on. You know, I’ll bring whatever my team needs. So excited. Just a dream come true,” Siegrist told Rowe.

Pick No. 4. Washington Mystics: The Mystics select Iowa State’s Stephanie Soares. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert also announced that the Mystics traded their rights to the Dallas Wings, but the year was not specified. Soares is now headed to Dallas, while Washington got back a future first- and second-round pick. NOTE: Soares suffered a torn ACL in January and will miss the upcoming WNBA season.

“I think part of it was a lot of the people that were surrounding me,” Soares said of her No. 4 pick. “They helped me grow and develop as an individual and as a player, and they just helped me every step of the way, every journey and every adventure I had.”

Pick. No. 5. Dallas Wings: Wings pick Lou Lopez Senechal, a transfer at Connecticut.

Pick No. 6. Atlanta Dream: Atlanta takes Stanford’s Haley Jones as the No. 6 pick.

“This is more nervous than I’ve been in any basketball game so far,” Jones told Rowe. “But it’s just surreal right now. There aren’t really words to describe it.”

Pick No. 7. Indiana Fever: Indiana’s Grace Berger is selected seventh overall by the Fever. She becomes the highest drafted Indiana player of all-time.

Pick No. 8. Atlanta Dream: The Dream select South Carolina’s Laeticia Amihere.

“You come to a great program like South Carolina, you’re expected to be around greatness,” Amihere told Rowe about how she’s prepared for the WNBA. “You’re competing against greatness. I’m competing against Aliyah (Boston) every day. So just that environment and being able to get better every day served me well.”

Pick. No. 9. Seattle Storm: The Storm pick Jordan Horston from Tennessee. She’s the 18th first-round draft pick for the Vols.

Pick No. 10. Los Angeles Sparks: South Carolina guard Zia Cooke is the No. 10 pick by the Sparks.

“Once I found the beauty in my struggle and learn how to embrace my struggle, things started to level out for me,” said an emotional Cooke. “Coach [DawnStaley taught me a lot. I wouldn’t be the player I am without her my teammates, the first season. I’m just, I’m just excited. I’m ready to work. I’m just ready right now.”

“I’m ready to work,” she added. “I’m ready to learn from some great vets. I’m ready to really lock in to what needs to be done. …I fell in love with the staff at first sight, so I can’t wait to finally get down there and just do it.”

Pick No. 11. Dallas Wings: With their third pick of the first round, Dallas selects Abby Meyers from Maryland.

Pick No. 12. Minnesota Lynx: The Lynx select 6-5 Maia Hirsch from France.

Second-round picks

Pick No. 13: The Indiana Fever select Ohio State’s Taylor Mikesell.

Pick No. 14: The Los Angeles Sparks choose Shaneice Swain of Australia as the 14th pick.

Pick No. 15: The Atlanta Dream draft Leigha Brown from Michigan.

Pick No. 16: The Minnesota Lynx select Dorka Juhasz from UConn.

Pick No. 17: The Indiana Fever choose LSU’s LaDazhia Williams.

Pick No. 18: The Seattle Storm select Madi Williams from Oklahoma.

Pick No. 19: The Dallas Wings pick the second player of the night from Iowa State, Ashley Joens.

Pick No. 20: The Washington Mystics draft Elena Tsineke from South Florida.

Pick No. 21: The Seattle Storm select a second straight South Florida player, Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu.

Pick No. 22: The second LSU player goes in the second round as the Connecticut Sun pick Alexis Morris.

Pick No. 23: The Chicago Sky choose Kayana Traylor from Virginia Tech.

Pick No. 24: Brea Beal becomes the fourth South Carolina player to be drafted Monday evening, going No. 24 to the Minnesota Lynx.

Third-round picks

Pick No. 25: South Carolina’s streak continues as the Indiana Fever select Victaria Saxton with the first pick of the third round. The Gamecocks are now the fourth program in history to have five or more players selected in a single draft, per ESPN.

Pick No. 26:  The Los Angeles Sparks choose Iowa standout Monika Czinano.

Pick No. 27: The Phoenix Mercury select Miami’s Destiny Harden.

Pick No. 28: The Minnesota Lynx pick Virginia Tech’s Taylor Soule.

Pick No. 29: The Phoenix Mercury draft USC’s Kadi Sissoko.

Pick No. 30: The New York Liberty select a second straight USC player, Okako Adika.

Pick No. 31: The Dallas Wings choose Illinois State’s Paige Robinson.

Pick No. 32: The Washington Mystics pick Txell Alarcon from Spain.

Pick No. 33: The Seattle Storm select Jade Loville, who transferred to Arizona State from Boise State.

Pick No. 34: The Connecticut Sun select Stanford’s Ashten Prechtel.

Pick No. 35: The Chicago Sky choose Kseniya Malashka from Middle Tennessee State.

Pick No. 36: With the final pick of the night, the Las Vegas Aces select Alabama’s Brittany Davis.

How does the WNBA Draft work and who has the first pick?

The WNBA draft consists of three rounds with 12 picks in each round, meaning a total of 36 athletes will be drafted.

The Indiana Fever, which finished the 2022 regular season with a 5-21 record, have the No. 1 overall pick after winning the draft lottery for the first time in franchise history. The Minnesota Lynx (14-22 in 2022) will have the second selection, with the Atlanta Dream (14-22) picking third and the Washington Mystics (22-14) choosing fourth.

Indiana, Atlanta and Minnesota qualified for the Lottery drawing after missing the 2022 WNBA Playoffs. Washington’s spot in the lottery was the result of the Mystics having obtained the right to swap its own 2023 first-round pick with Atlanta for Los Angeles’ 2023 first-round pick (previously acquired by Atlanta in a deal in February 2022).

The Dallas Wings have control over the first round with three picks — Nos. 3, 5 and 11. “I’m of the opinion you can never have too many draft picks, just like you can never have too many good players, too much talent,” team president and CEO Greg Bibb said earlier this week. “You have to figure out how to manage that and maximize it, but I’m never afraid of draft picks.”

Who is predicted to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft?

Most mock drafts predicted that South Carolina standout Aliyah Boston would be the overall No. 1 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, with Maryland’s Diamond Miller, Stanford’s Haley Jones and Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist are expected to go in the top five. Predictions were close.


2023 Aliyah Boston Indiana Fever
2022 Rhyne Howard Atlanta Dream
2021 Charli Collier Dallas Wings
2020 Sabrina Ionescu New York Liberty
2019 Jackie Young Las Vegas Aces
2018 A’ja Wilson Las Vegas Aces
2017 Kelsey Plum Las Vegas Aces
2016 Breanna Stewart Seattle Storm
2015 Jewell Loyd Seattle Storm
2014 Chiney Ogwumike Connecticut Sun
2013 Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury

Which WNBA prospects will attend the 2023 WNBA Draft?

The WNBA on Friday announced the list of 15 prospects who will attend the 2022 WNBA Draft:

  • Forward Laeticia Amihere (South Carolina)
  • Guard Brea Beal (South Carolina)
  • Guard Grace Berger (Indiana)
  • Forward Aliyah Boston (South Carolina)
  • Guard Zia Cooke (South Carolina)
  • Guard Jordan Horston (Tennessee)
  • Guard/forward Ashley Joens (Iowa State)
  • Guard/forward Haley Jones(Stanford)
  • Forward Dorka Juhász (Connecticut)
  • Guard/forward Lou Lopez Sénéchal (Connecticut)
  • Guard Taylor Mikesell (Ohio State)
  • Guard Diamond Miller (Maryland)
  • Guard Alexis Morris (LSU)
  • Forward Maddy Siegrist (Villanova)
  • Forward/center Stephanie Soares (Iowa State)

Who’s eligible for the 2023 WNBA Draft?

Wondering why Iowa star and reigning Player of the Year Caitlin Clark or LSU’s Championship final Most Outstanding Player Angel Reese aren’t in the draft? It’s because neither player turns the required age of 22 during the 2023 calendar year. Clark will turn 22 on Jan. 21, 2024, while the 20-year-old Reese’s birthday is May 6. Both will have to wait another year before declaring for the league.

In order to be eligible to play in the WNBA, an athlete must:

  • Turn 22 years old in the year of the draft, OR
  • Have graduated or be set to graduate from a four-year university within three months of the draft, OR
  • Have attended a four-year college and had her original class already graduate or be set to graduate within three months of the draft.
  • International athletes who don’t play college basketball in the U.S. are eligible but must turn 20 years old in the year of the draft.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA in 2021 granted all winter athletes an additional year of college eligibility. As a result, college players were required to opt-in if they had additional eligibility remaining and wanted to be considered for the 2023 WNBA Draft.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: In college basketball, men can be ‘one-and-done.’ Why not the women?

What are the chances of a draft pick playing in the WNBA?

The reality is that many WNBA draftees ultimately will not play in a WNBA game. With just 144 roster spots available in the WNBA (12 teams x 12 players per roster), opportunity is scarce and some of those spots will go unfilled due to the league’s salary cap.

Which NCAA players opted into the 2023 WNBA Draft?

The WNBA on Thursday announced the following NCAA players have formally filed for inclusion as candidates for the 2023 WNBA Draft. Names in bold were drafted Monday evening:

Adebola Adeyeye Kentucky Forward 6-2
Okako Adika USC Guard/Forward 6-0
Jaia Alexander Coppin State Guard 5-11
Laeticia Amihere South Carolina Forward 6-4
Ja’Mee Asberry Baylor Guard 5-5
Ketsia Athias Iona Forward/Center 6-2
Kadaja Bailey St. John’s Guard 6-0
Angel Baker Mississippi Guard 5-8
Elizabeth Balogun Duke Guard/Forward 6-1
Malury Bates Georgia Forward 6-3
Diamond Battles Georgia Guard 5-8
Brea Beal South Carolina Guard 6-1
Niyah Becker Wake Forest Forward 6-2
Robyn Benton Kentucky Guard 5-9
Grace Berger Indiana Guard 6-0
Caitlin Bickle Baylor Forward 6-1
Essence Booker UNLV Guard 5-8
Aliyah Boston South Carolina Forward-Center 6-5
Sam Breen Massachusetts Forward 6-1
Chrissy Brown Southeastern Louisiana Guard 5-9
Leigha Brown Michigan Guard 6-1
Juana Camilion Iona Guard 5-10
Chrislyn Carr Louisville Guard 5-5
Christianna “Chrissy” Carr Arkansas Guard 6-1
Jasmine Carson LSU Guard 5-10
Sha Carter FGCU Guard 6-0
Gina Conti UCLA Guard 5-11
Zia Cooke South Carolina Guard 5-9
Sidney Cooks Seton Hall Forward/Center 6-4
Taya Corosdale Duke Guard/Forward 6-3
Janai Crooms Providence Guard 5-10
Monika Czinano Iowa Forward/Center 6-3
Brittany Davis  Alabama Guard 5-9
Cherita Daugherty Southern Utah Guard 5-10
Christina Deng Gardner-Webb Forward 6-0
Asiah Dingle Fordham Guard 5-6
Liz Dixon Louisville Forward 6-5
Rokia Doumbia USC Guard 5-9
Camille Downs Norfolk State Guard 5-10
Lauren Ebo Notre Dame Center 6-4
Ayana Emmanuel Alabama State Guard 5-9
Jayla Everett St. John’s Guard 5-10
Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu South Florida Forward 6-4
Kierra Fletcher South Carolina Guard 5-9
Brooke Flowers Saint Louis Forward/Center 6-5
Alex Fowler Portland Forward 6-2
Deja Francis Norfolk State Guard 5-7
Marnelle Garraud Vanderbilt Guard 5-7
D’Asia Gregg Virginia Tech Forward 6-2
A’Niah Griffin Evansville Guard 6-1
Stephanie Guihon McNeese State Guard 5-6
Ciaja Harbison Vanderbilt Guard 5-6
Destiny Harden Miami Forward 6-0
Jazmin Harris No. Carolina A&T Center 6-3
Anastasia Hayes Mississippi State Guard 5-7
Da’Nasia Hood Texas State Forward 6-1
Jordan Horston Tennessee Guard 6-2
Ashley Joens Iowa State Guard/Forward 6-1
Asianae Johnson Mississippi State Guard 5-8
Haley Jones Stanford Guard 6-1
Morgan Jones Louisville Guard 6-2
Dorka Juhász Connecticut Forward 6-5
Emily Kiser Michigan Forward 6-3
Dariauna Lewis Syracuse Forward 6-1
Destiny Littleton USC Guard 5-9
Ana Llanusa Oklahoma Guard 6-0
Lou Lopez Sénéchal Connecticut Guard/Forward 6-1
Jade Loville Arizona Guard/Forward 5-11
Dara Mabrey Notre Dame Guard 5-7
Kseniya Malashka Middle Tennessee State Forward 6-0
Chloe Marotta Marquette Forward 6-1
Kamaria McDaniel Michigan State Guard 5-10
Shaiquel McGruder New Mexico Forward 6-0
Rachel McLimore Butler Guard-Forward 5-10
Abby Meyers Maryland Guard 6-0
Taylor Mikesell Ohio State Guard 5-11
Diamond Miller Maryland Guard 6-3
Tishara Morehouse FGCU Guard 5-3
Alexis Morris LSU Guard 5-6
Sonya Morris Texas Guard 5-10
Amoria Neal-Tysor Mercer Guard 5-6
Trinity Oliver Washington Guard 5-10
Aaliyah Patty Texas A&M Forward 6-3
Shaina Pellington Arizona Guard 5-8
Lasha Petree Purdue Guard 6-0
Destiney Philoxy Massachusetts Guard 5-7
Elisa Pinzan Maryland Guard 5-8
Ashten Prechtel Stanford Forward 6-5
Cate Reese Arizona Forward 6-2
Taylor Robertson Oklahoma Guard 6-0
Paige Robinson Illinois State Guard 5-11
Victaria Saxton South Carolina Forward 6-2
Bre’Amber Scott Texas Tech Guard 5-11
Myah Selland South Dakota State Forward 6-1
Maddy Siegrist Villanova Forward 6-2
Kadi Sissoko USC Forward 6-2
Ahlana Smith Mississippi State Guard 5-9
Brittney Smith Georgia Forward 6-3
Madisen Smith West Virginia Guard 5-5
Stephanie Soares Iowa State Forward/Center 6-6
Taylor Soule Virginia Tech Forward 5-11
E’Lease Stafford Missouri-Kansas City Guard/Forward 6-0
Asia Strong Syracuse Forward 6-2
Cameron Swartz Georgia Tech Guard 5-11
Myah Taylor Mississippi Guard 5-7
Kayana Traylor Virginia Tech Guard 5-9
Elena Tsineke South Florida Guard 5-7
Haley Van Dyke Washington Forward 6-1
Audrey Warren Georgia Guard/Forward 5-9
Keishana Washington Drexel Guard 5-7
Kaela Webb FGCU Guard 5-6
LaDazhia Williams LSU Forward 6-4
Madi Williams Oklahoma Forward 5-11
Zakiyah Winfield Buffalo Guard 5-7
Bendu Yeaney Oregon State Guard 5-10

In addition, four players have rescinded their prior decisions to opt-in for the draft and have removed their names from consideration:

  • Esmery Martinez (Arizona)
  • Charisma Osborne (UCLA)
  • Sedona Prince (Oregon)
  • Endyia Rogers (Oregon)

Key dates for the 2023 WNBA season

The 2023 WNBA season opens Friday, May 19, with the Las Vegas Aces entering the season as the defending champions. The Aces are expected to contend for a second straight title after adding two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker in the offseason. Other key dates to know:

  • April 30: Training camps begin
  • May 5: Preseason games begin
  • May 15: Last date for preseason games
  • May 18: Final 12 roster deadline
  • May 19: Opening day

Li Li Leung talks USA Gymnastics’ cultural transformation, challenges still to come and embracing her AAPI heritage

Head of USA Gymnastics Li Li Leung.
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Li Li Leung joined USA Gymnastics as president and CEO in March 2019, when the organization was reeling from the fallout of Larry Nassar’s widespread sexual abuse and the subsequent revelations of larger cultural issues within the sport. Since then, Leung has seen USAG through an ongoing transformation, one that hinges on the work of the survivors and staff around her, whom she is quick to credit. That evolution, as she calls it, has included instituting new norms and standards at all levels of the sport, particularly in matters related to athlete safety.

Among the notable USAG initiatives that Leung has brought to fruition is the Athlete Bill of Rights, established in December 2020 as a tool “to unite the full gymnastics community around a shared vision of behavioral expectations.” At the same time, USAG instituted a protest policy for national team members aimed at supporting athletes who choose to use their voice on public platforms. Both initiatives were among the first of their kind in sport.

Prior to joining USAG, Leung served as a vice president at the National Basketball Association (NBA), where she was responsible for building and managing key partner relationships around the world. She continues to use that experience in her roles as vice chair of the National Governing Bodies Council of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and a member of the International Gymnastics Federation’s Executive Committee.

Leung, who began competing in gymnastics at age 7, was a member of the U.S. junior national training team and represented the U.S. at the 1988 Junior Pan American Games. She was a four-year member of the four-time Big 10 champion University of Michigan gymnastics team and was an NCAA Championships participant.

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, On Her Turf sat down with Leung to talk about her journey with USAG, the challenges still to come and how being a member of the AAPI community has shaped the person she is today.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Sloane Stephens gets candid about turning 30, favorite self-care practices and freezing her eggs ahead of 12th French Open

This Q+A has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

On Her Turf: Let’s start by talking about your journey since joining USA Gymnastics in 2019. What have the last four years been like for you?

Li Li Leung: This was just an incredible opportunity to give back to the sport that has given so much to me. And I really mean that because I started in the sport when I was 7 years old and did it for 15 years. It’s taught me all of these different skills that I apply to my daily life, both professional and personal. It feels a little bit like I’ve come full circle, and honestly, never in a million years did I think I would find myself in this role. … I joined at a time when it was a tumultuous time for the organization. It’s been just a little a little over four years now, and it has been an incredible journey — and believe it or not, I have enjoyed it. While it hasn’t been easy, I actually have enjoyed it, because I’ve been able to make it not just me. One thing that’s important to note is that — I had even said on my first interview with the board — it will take a village to accomplish what we need to accomplish. This is not a one-person job. And I was lucky enough to be able to bring on a leadership team that has been incredible, and also retain the staff that we have retained, as well as hire other new staff members. And it’s because of them and some really key volunteers that we’ve been able to accomplish what we’ve been able to do.

OHT: Can you talk a little more about this cultural transformation that the organization has experienced and your approach to tackling this all-encompassing change?

Leung: When I was interviewing for the position, I actually met every single board member. It was really critical to both sides that they felt that I matched the role and their needs and also I had to be confident in the board believing in the ultimate mission of the organization and what we wanted to achieve. So that the culture really does stem from the well – from the top down and everything in between as well. And when I was looking for leadership team, … one of the characteristics I was really looking for was they couldn’t have an ego. The job couldn’t be about themselves or about what they would personally get out of the role. It had to be about them believing in the bigger picture and believing in what we collectively wanted to achieve. I knew that we would only be able to accomplish what we need to accomplish if people were willing to roll up their sleeves and just do whatever needed to be done, so that was one of the key things in terms of having no ego.

Since 2018, we’ve turned over more than 70 percent of our staff. We’ve been able to retain the really key members of our staff, who have been critical to our success, but also have been able to really bring in new thinking, new blood, new perspectives. Because the other thing I was looking for when I was hiring for the leadership team was diversity in perspectives. That was critical because I did not want to be surrounded by “yes people.” I wanted to be surrounded by people who would be willing to have really robust conversations and engage in difficult conversations, because ultimately, you end up in a better place because of that.

In 2020, we reset our mission to be about building a community and culture of health, safety and excellence, with athletes who thrive in sport and in life. So we were no longer about developing technically superior gymnasts who perform well in gym. We reset our focus to be about helping set our athletes up for success with the skill sets that you learn in gymnastics, and when we come to the office each day, that’s what we’re thinking about. …

The other piece is we also know from a community standpoint that our national team coaches are the most visible representation (of USAG), and a lot of coaches model them. So we’ve been working really hard in terms of working on educating our national team coaches. We work with Positive Coaching Alliance to do educational training with them as well. And we also have introduced training specifically for young coaches coming in, because we know when they come in and they’re new, that they’re eager to learn, and that’s when you can start training and moving them in a way. So our thinking is with this top-down and bottom-up strategy, eventually the middle will meet.

OHT: You noted how the coaches can be some of the most visible representatives of USAG. Regarding the addition of 2008 Olympic silver medalists Chellsie Memmel (USAG technical lead) and Alicia Sacramone Quinn (USAG strategic lead), how have those women impacted the program?

Leung: The addition of Chellsie and Alicia has been fantastic. They have been phenomenal to work with, and the fact that they have firsthand experience of having gone through it themselves – that also gives them a very good idea of what they would change and what they wouldn’t change, at the same time. It has been a phenomenal addition to be able to have this perspective of firsthand, high-level, high-performing athletes to be able to lead our high-performance team. And the athletes are saying it as well. They’re saying, “We trust them; we feel confident in their decisions; we can relate to them” — all of those things that historically haven’t really happened before.

Then in terms of the athletes who are going to college and coming back to compete with USA Gymnastics – there are so many aspects that I think are great about this. One: It’s showing a lengthened career in a sport that historically has not been very long because it’s so demanding on the body. So that means that our athletes are physically healthier, as well, that they can train and compete at a high level for a longer period of time. It also means that they’re enjoying it more because they’re staying in the sport. From an emotional standpoint, they’re finding a lot more joy in the sport, and they’re talking about it, too. And we love the fact that they’re talking about it. We want them to talk about it, and we want them to have voices and feel open and free about sharing what they’re thinking about. I have to say I’ve been really enjoying seeing almost like — I’m not sure if I can go as far as a new era in the sport maybe — but just this evolution of the sport and the athletes changing in front of my eyes.

OHT: What do you consider now to still be the biggest challenge or obstacle for USAG?

Leung: There are a couple of big initiatives on the list. One is we want to build a training and wellness center where all of our disciplines will train under one roof. This is a long-term project, obviously, but my vision around it is that it will be the heart and hub of gymnastics in America. And while this is where national team athletes will ultimately train to some extent, it is going to be a welcoming place for athletes of all different disciplines and all different levels. We want it to be a place where young athletes can come through and see their role models training. We want this to be a place of education for our community and judges. We want to be able to run clinics there for all different levels. We just want this to be a gathering place of gymnastics and to be able to celebrate the sport there at the same time.

We’re also going to reset our foundation. There’s been the National Gymnastics Foundation, but we are going to reset it and basically be much more proactive on fundraising and development to grow the sport and also to raise more money for athletes in their training.

OHT: Turning to AAPI Heritage Month and being named to the 2023 Gold House A100 List (the A100 is named each May honoring 100 Asian Pacific leaders who made the greatest impact on culture and society over the past year). What did that honor mean to you?

Leung: It was such an incredible honor to be recognized by them, and my fellow honorees — when I read the list, I thought to myself, “I don’t belong.” There are some incredible names on that list. But again, I go back to what I said earlier: I owe this honor to a lot of the other people who work [at USAG]. I think the really important thing to recognize is that this was not done by just me. It was done by a lot of other people who are on staff and who aren’t getting the accolades or the recognition. But it was an incredible experience to be, and I’m very, very touched and honored to be on that list.

OHT: How do you identify within the Asian American Pacific Islander community? Did you embrace your heritage growing up and how has that shaped who you are today?

Leung: So I’ll tell you a story that I’ve mentioned to other people recently. I grew up in a town called Ridgewood in Bergen County, New Jersey, and most of my friends had blond hair and blue eyes. When I was growing up, I wanted the name “Nancy Smith,” and I wanted blue eyes. I wanted to fit in. As a kid, you always want to fit in. Then when you get older and wizen up a little bit, you realize that it’s okay and it’s good to be different, that you can use that to your advantage. And so upon growing up, I realized that it’s pretty special to be Asian American and there are benefits to being Asian American, and you should embrace the fact that you are different. In fact, I recently lectured to a women-in-sports-business class, and one of the questions they asked me was about impostor syndrome. I said the same thing that I’m saying to you now, which is absolutely embrace who you are. Absolutely embrace your differences, because those ultimately are embedded advantages to who you are and make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. So that’s my philosophy now.

OHT: Do you or your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?

Leung: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a tradition, but in the Chinese culture, food is really important. Food is what brings people together. It’s a sign of respect, and that is the ultimate unifying language in a way. So when we do get together as a family, it’s really important for us to get together around a meal, because that’s when we share our stories. That’s when we connect with one another.

OHT: You might have just answered my next question, but I want to ask: What brings you joy about your heritage and culture?

Leung: It’s funny, I was actually at a conference last week and you were supposed to find someone you didn’t know in the conference and share a secret talent that you have. I shared that I can eat a lot more than most people think. Food is a really important part of our culture and in my upbringing and family.

OHT: Lastly, I wanted to ask, as we’ve seen an increase in hate-filled actions toward the AAPI community, what does supporting the AAPI community look like for you?

Leung: Well, I think kind of going back to my other answer, it’s just about embracing who you are and embracing your differences. I think part of it is being unafraid of it at the same time, which I know is really difficult. But if you’re going to truly embrace it, and then you can’t be afraid about embracing it at the same time.

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: Laureus award winner and three-time Olympic medalist Eileen Gu on Stanford, elevating women and changing the game

2023 Mizuho Americas Open: How to watch, who’s playing in inaugural LPGA event at Liberty National GC

Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand tees off on the eleventh hole during Day One of the HSBC Women's World Championship.
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The Statue of Liberty is the backdrop for this week’s inaugural Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. The tournament boasts a theme of mentorship and education, and includes a girls’ 72-hole, modified Stableford tournament featuring 24 juniors to go along with the 72-hole stroke-play event for 120 LPGA professionals.

The field is led by seven of the top 10 players on the Rolex Rankings including world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, No. 3 Lydia Ko, No. 4 Lilia Vu and No. 5 Minjee Lee. Also teeing it up this week are the finalists from Sunday’s Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play, where Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukarn captured her second LPGA title with a 3-and-1 victory over Japan’s Ayaka Furue.

Michelle Wie West is serving as the tournament host, and she’ll be on hand to welcome fellow Stanford alum Rose Zhang, who’s fresh off her second straight NCAA individual title and turned professional just last week. Zhang will have her first go at an LPGA prize purse, which tops out at $2.75 million this week with the winner taking home $412,500.

How to watch the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open

You can watch the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open on Golf Channel, Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Check out the complete TV and streaming schedule:

  • Thursday, June 1: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Friday, June 2: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Saturday, June 3: 5-8 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock
  • Sunday, June 4: 4:30-5 p.m. ET (streaming only on Peacock); 5-7:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel and Peacock

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Who’s playing in the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open?

The 120-player field features seven of the top 10 players (and 16 of the top 25 player) on the Rolex Rankings:

  • No. 1 Jin Young Ko
  • No. 3 Lydia Ko
  • No. 4 Lilia Vu
  • No. 5 Minjee Lee
  • No. 6 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 8 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 9 Georgia Hall

Also in the field are 2023 winners Celine Boutier (LPGA Drive On Championship), Ruoning Yin (DIO Implant LA Open) and Grace Kim (LOTTE Championship), plus several sponsor exemptions including reigning NCAA individual champion Rose Zhang and her Stanford teammate Megha Ganne. Ganne, a native of Holmdel, N.J., finished T-21 at the recent NCAAs and is playing as an amateur. Joining them as an exemption is fellow Cardinal Mariah Stackhouse, who has conditional status on tour in 2023. Monday qualifiers include tour rookie Alexa Pano and Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith.

Among the notable juniors expected to play are 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner Anna Davis, 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior winner Yana Wilson and 2022 U.S. Junior Girls’ runnerup Gianna Clemente. The 24 junior players were invited through their standings in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.

What’s the format for the Mizuho Americas Open?

The professionals will play a 72-hole stroke-play competition, with a cut to the top 50 and ties after 36 holes. The 24 juniors will play a 72-hole, no-cut competition using the modified Stableford scoring format and a different yardage than the pros.

During the first two rounds, the AJGA players will all be paired together. During the final two rounds, one junior player will play with two LPGA pros with groupings based on scores. This unique format marks the first time the AJGA and LPGA have partnered to showcase junior and professional competitors playing together.

Stableford scoring refresher: “Stableford” is a scoring system that awards points for the number of strokes taken on each hole in relation to par, rather than simply counting strokes like in stroke play. Unlike in stroke play, where players want the lowest score, the goal in Stableford scoring is to have the highest score. Standard Stableford points values are:

  • 0 Points – Double bogey or worse (two strokes or more over par)
  • 1 Point – Bogey (one stroke over par)
  • 2 Points – Par
  • 3 Points – Birdie (one stroke under par)
  • 4 Points – Eagle (two strokes under par)
  • 5 Points – Albatross or double eagle (three strokes under par)
  • 6 Points – Condor (four strokes under par)

More about Liberty National Golf Club

Located on the shore of the Upper Bay of New York Harbor, Liberty National Golf Club was designed by Bob Cupp and Tom Kite and officially opened on July 4, 2006. After the course received mixed reviews following the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust in 2009, the course underwent a renovation led by Steve Wenzloff of PGA Tour Design Services. Of note, the course hosted an event during the PGA Tour Playoffs four times (2009, 2013, 2019 and 2021) as well as the 2017 Presidents Cup, where the U.S. defeated the Internationals 19-11 for the Americans’ seventh consecutive victory in the competition and its 10th straight win overall. For this week’s event, the course will play to a par of 72 with an unofficial scorecard yardage of 6,671 yards.

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