Ruthy Hebard checks in from the ‘Wubble’ as she prepares for her WNBA Debut

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 4:09 PM AKDT
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Ruthy Hebard and her new Chicago Sky teammates have been getting acquainted on and off the floor over the past several weeks in the WNBA Bubble, known as the ‘Wubble’, at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

In April, Hebard became the first Fairbanks-born athlete to be drafted into the WNBA, when she landed eighth overall to Coach James Wade and the Sky.

Hebard is expected to make her WNBA debut Sunday, July 26 against the Las Vegas Aces in their season opener. Tip off is at 11 a.m. AKDT on ABC.

In her limited time with the Sky, the former West Valley standout has impressed both her coaching staff and her teammates, which led to Wade believing that she will make a strong contribution early in the season, which Hebard is prepared for.

“It is super nice to hear that and know they trust me enough to put me in the game,” Hebard said from the Wubble. “I just want to be able to go in there and show them that they made the right choice and prove myself and do whatever it is, whether it is scoring, rebounding, defense, to help my team win.”

As a rookie, Hebard has experienced veterans on her side to help guide her in her first season, like 11-year pro Allie Quigley.

“I think she has a really good feel around the basket, it is hard to teach post players touch, but she has really good touch,” said Quiqley, a three-time WNBA All-Star. “She has a good knack for getting offensive rebounds. That is always huge when you have a post player that just crashes the boards all the time, so I think those two things will be huge for her and us.”

The “touch” around the basket that Quigley speaks of is reflective of Hebard’s resume at Oregon, where she was a First-Team All-American. The 6-foot 4 forward is Oregon’s all-time leader in field goal percentage (65.1) and field goals made (987). In 2018, she broke an NCAA record, male or female, when she made 33 consecutive baskets in a three-game span.

Hebard averaged 9.0 rebound per game in her four-year career with the Ducks, finishing third all-time in the program with 1,299 total boards.

2019 All-WNBA First-Team member Courntey Vandersloot, the leagues best floor general, will have plenty of opportunities to feed Hebard the ball this season to rack up her career assist total, which is currently sixth all-time (1,684).

“Ruthy is such a student of the game. She is really trying to absorb as much as she can, find her role, find her niche and really learn a new system. That is tough to do that, but I have been really impressed with how she is taking it on,” said Vandersloot, last year’s WNBA assist leader. “James [Wade] is hard on her, he expects a lot from her and she is finding a way. She is going to help, she is going to give us really solid minutes and she is going to be a really good player for the Chicago Sky.”

While the team has not been able to gather in Chicago, the city where Hebard was born before adoption, it has not prevented the team from meshing early on.

“This whole team is such a family already, I can tell they all really like each other and love each other so that’s been super nice to have,” added Hebard. “I’m really happy to be part of another family.”

The Sky, along with the other 11 WNBA teams, have been working out, practicing and familiarizing with themselves with their playbooks since they arrived to the IMG Academy on July 6.

However, there is a lot of down time as well, where Hebard was able to reconnect with her former Oregon teammates like Sabrina Ionescu (1st overall, New York Liberty) and Satou Sabally (2nd overall, Dallas Wings).

“We have taco nights, we watch soccer games together, we just kind of all hang out,” said Hebard about how she has been spending her free time. “It is fun to see Sab [Sabally], we go to the pool with some of my old teammates as well. I have got to try golfing here soon, but it has been super fun just to be able to hang out with them and all be so close.”

If Hebard appears in Sunday’s game, she will become the fifth player from Alaska to play in the WNBA and the first from Fairbanks (Chugiak’s Kelsey Griffin, Palmer’s Jessica Moore, Soldotna’s Molly Tuter and Juneau’s Andrea Lloyd).

Chicago posted a 20-14 record last season, falling in the second round of the playoffs to their opponent on Sunday, Las Vegas.

Who: Chicago Sky vs. Las Vegas Aces

Where: Watch on ABC (WNBA Court 1 - Bradenton, FL)

When: 11 a.m. AKDT (3 p.m. ET)

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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