Less than 24 hours after the Seattle Storm promoted Talisa Rhea, she is preparing for her first WNBA Draft with the organization as general manager.
But Rhea is no stranger to the Storm’s success.
The former pro began her career in 2015 with the Storm as a video coordinator, then director of basketball operations in 2016 and assistant GM in 2019. Alongside Alisha Valavanis, Rhea has been a part of the groundwork that has seen Seattle claim the championship trophy two times in the past three years.
Now, the 31-year-old will be tasked with helping the Storm defend their national championship through the draft, by adding key players around the title-contending team.
“We’re hoping to round out our roster and have a competitive training camp which starts in a couple of weeks,” Rhea told Justin Myers on The Bridge. “We’re looking forward to some really great competition during camp to fill out our roster. We obviously have a really great core that is returning from last year’s team...
Unlike year’s past, this year the Storm chose to forgo in-person scouting amid the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than attend the NCAA Tournament and Combines to see prospects in person, Seattle has been studying game film in what has been a “different year of preparation.”
Being able to adapt to change has become a crucial part of Rhea’s new role.
“It has changed a little bit,” Rhea said. “I helped our previous GM and CEO, Alisha, a lot with our draft prep last year. So just kind of taking that to the next level a little bit and being responsible for the choices that we’re going to make in tomorrow’s draft, have been working really closely with our coaching staff to make sure that we have a good plan and we’re really excited, looking forward to it.”
After overhauling their roster this offseason with the departures of Natasha Howard and Alysha Clark, re-signing Epiphanny Prince to a two-year deal, signing veteran Candice Dupree to a one-year contract, bringing back Sue Bird for a 20th season, and acquiring Mikiah Herbert Harrigan (from the Minnesota Lynx) and Katie Lou Samuelson (from the Dallas Wings), the Storm will have a new look-and-feel this season.
As they enter Thursday’s draft, Seattle could look to add more depth at the point guard position by acquiring a player like Stanford’s Kiana Williams. Former Oregon State guard Destiny Slocum has also been a projected pick by Seattle in recent mock drafts.
For Rhea, Seattle’s game plan is simple: “We’re just looking for the best available player at 11.”
She added, “There’s some really good prospects that we think will be available in the second half of that first round, so really just excited to see the best available player and who we think has the most potential with our group, and we’ll try to bring that player in and see what happens in training camp.”