The Standard (Zimbabwe)

Chicago Sky sign Zim trailblaze­r Mavunga


TRAIBLAZIN­G Zimbabwe-born basketball star Stephanie Mavunga is set to continue her blossoming pro career in the Women’s National Basketball Associatio­n (WNBA) after being signed by the Chicago Sky from the Indiana Fever.

The Chicago Sky revealed in a statement last week that it had acquired the services of the 25-year-old Harare-born forward in exchange for centre Jantel Lavender, who went in the opposite direction.

Mavunga made history two years ago by becoming the first Zimbabwean to break into the WNBA after being selected 14th overall by the Indiana Fever during the 2018 WNBA Draft.

The move to the Indiana Fever briefly reunited Mavunga with her sister-in-law Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga, who had played for the Indiana Fever from 2011 before being waived ahead of the 2018 WNBA season.

The gifted Zimbabwe-born power forward was averaging career-highs in points (5), rebounds (4) and minutes (11.8) per game in five appearance­s for Indiana this season before being temporaril­y sidelined by a facial injury on August 7.

Mavunga has since been cleared to play and made her debut on Thursday when she played for five minutes and scored one basket in a hard-fought 86-83 loss to the Minnesota Lynx.

Mavunga, who played for the USA in the 2015 Pan American Games, having progressed from the USA junior ranks since 2011, had in recent seasons been widely tipped to break into WNBA after finishing her college basketball career.

She enjoyed two very successful seasons each with North Carolina and Ohio State, which paved the pathway for her progressio­n to the women’s profession­al basketball league in the US.

In all, Mavunga earned three all-conference honours during her college career — one with North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference and two with Ohio State in the Big Ten — including a first-team selection in both leagues.

Since turning pro, Mavunga has also had successful stints in Europe with Russian sides Enisey Krasnoyars­k and Dynamo Kursk and in France with Basket Lattes Montpellie­r Agglomérat­ion.

Born Tafadzwa Stephanie Mavunga on February 24, 1995 in Harare, Mavunga’s parents Phillip, a truck driver, and Jean, a registered nurse, moved the family to England for a year in late 1997, then to Indianapol­is which they deemed a good place in America to raise a family.

The family later moved to the suburb of Brownsburg, Indiana, where she and brothers Julian (five years older) and Jordache (two years younger) all became basketball stars at Brownsburg High School.

Julian was an all-conference star at Miami University before embarking on a pro-career that began as an undrafted free agent with the Indiana Pacers in NBA Summer Leagues in 2012 and 2013.

His career has flourished overseas with stops in Italy, Ukraine, Israel, Kosovo and the past three seasons in Japan.

Jordache played a year each at Glen Oaks Community College and Parkland Community College, before moving to the University of Indianapol­is, where he is one of the top players on their roster.

 ??  ?? Stephanie Mavunga
Stephanie Mavunga

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