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What to know about the Washington Mystics season opener

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What to know about the Washington Mystics season opener

The Mystics reached their first WNBA Finals in franchise history in 2018 but were swept by the Seattle Storm in the championship series.

Elle Delle Donne -- who was recently named in WNBA.com's GM survey as the favorite to win league MVP -- is back for her third season in Washington.

Though she is out for the opener, Delle Donne believes the team is ready to make another run at the title thanks to the return of All-Star forward Emma Meesseman. 

Earlier Friday, the Mystics announced their final 12-woman roster for the 2019 season. Delle Donne and guard Kristi Toliver headline a team that includes nine returners from the 2018 team, as well as Meesseman, who played for the Mystics from 2013-17 but sat out in 2018 to focus on playing for the Belgian national team. The final roster spots went to WNBA rookies Kiara Leslie and Kim Mestdagh.

According to ESPN, the Mystics, Los Angeles Sparks and Las Vegas Aces are the favorites to win the championship this season.

The WNBA's 23rd season kicks of Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Atlanta Dream host the Dallas Wings.

MYSTICS VS. SUN HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Mystics vs. Connecticut Sun, Regular Season Game 1

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

Live Stream: You can live stream on WNBA's League Pass website by signing up for a free trial

NBC Sports Washington will be broadcasting 10 Mystics home games during the 2019 WNBA season. For the full regular season schedule, click here.

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2019 WNBA Draft: Mystics select NC State's Kiara Leslie

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2019 WNBA Draft: Mystics select NC State's Kiara Leslie

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jackie Young said it was a dream come true to be taken first in the WNBA draft.

The Notre Dame guard, who decided to enter the draft early and skip her senior season, was selected No. 1 by the Las Vegas Aces on Wednesday night.

"Since I was a little girl I always wanted to play in the WNBA and now I have my chance," she said.

She's the second Irish player to be drafted first after entering early joining Jewell Loyd, who had the honor in 2015.

It's the third consecutive year the Aces have had the No. 1 pick. They took Kelsey Plum in 2017 when the franchise was still in San Antonio. The Aces then drafted A'ja Wilson last season with the No. 1 pick when the franchise moved to Las Vegas.

Young wasn't thrilled that she didn't have much time to make her decision after the Irish lost the championship game Sunday night to Baylor. She had 24 hours to decide whether she wanted to turn pro or go back to play for the Irish.

"It was definitely a hard process for me," Young said. "I had to sit down, talk to my family, talk to Coach (Muffet) McGraw and make the best decision for me."

Young was the first of five Notre Dame players to be drafted. Arike Ogunbowale went fifth to Dallas. Brianna Turner went 11th to the Atlanta Dream. She was later traded to the Phoenix Mercury for Marie Gulich. Jessica Shepard was taken 16th by the Minnesota Lynx. Marina Mabrey was the fifth Notre Dame player to go, drafted 19th by the Los Angeles Sparks.

"It's a historic moment for our program," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "We've had a lot of accomplishments, but this one stands alone. It's probably something that will never happen again. Because of the injury to Bri and Jess coming in, it's atypical of having that kind of class. But it's incredible what they accomplished."

Tennessee is the only school to have that occur with college players, in 2008. Candace Parker was taken first. Alexis Hornbuckle was drafted fourth. Shannon Bobbitt and Nicky Anosike went back-to-back in the second round and Alberta Auguste was taken in the third round.

Asia Durr went second to the New York Liberty. The Louisville guard, who was a two-time AP All-American, was the No. 2 scorer in school history. The Indiana Fever then took Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan at No. 3. Chicago drafted a UConn player for the second consecutive season taking Katie Lou Samuelson fourth reconnecting her with former Huskies teammate Gabby Williams.

Another UConn player went sixth with Napheesa Collier headed to Minnesota. She could provide some help for the Lynx, who will be missing Maya Moore for the season as she sits out to focus more on things other than basketball. The Lynx had a busy draft taking Shepard and Cierra Dillon of Buffalo in the second round. They also traded Natisha Hiedeman, whom they drafted 16th to Connecticut for Lexie Brown. They drafted Kenisha Bell of Minnesota in the third round.

The Los Angeles Sparks took Baylor center Kalani Brown seventh. It's been a whirlwind 72 hours for the 6-foot-7 center as she helped Baylor win a national championship on Sunday.

Australian Alanna Smith, who helped Stanford win the Pac-12 Tournament title was drafted eighth by Phoenix. The Mercury are coached by fellow Aussie Sandy Brondello. Kristine Anigwe went ninth to Connecticut. The Cal center, who led the nation in rebounding, was the national defensive player of the year. Washington took Kiara Leslie with the 10th pick and Ezi Magbegor closed out the opening round by going to defending champion Seattle.

Chinese sensation Han Xu was drafted 14th by the New York Liberty. The 6-foot-9 center became the first Chinese player drafted since 1997. There was some talk that Han wouldn't be able to play this summer as she would have to compete for the Chinese national team. She said that she expected to play for New York this summer.

The WNBA season opens on May 24th with training camps opening up a few weeks earlier.

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LeBron James takes notice, congratulates Elena Delle Donne, Mystics on gutsy WNBA Finals performance

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LeBron James takes notice, congratulates Elena Delle Donne, Mystics on gutsy WNBA Finals performance

The Washington Mystics fell short of winning the franchise's first WNBA championship, but the team's run to the Finals earned them some new fans, including one LeBron James.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward tweeted out his congratulations to both the Mystics and champions Seattle Storm Wednesday night after Seattle defeated Washington 98-82 to sweep the WNBA Finals. 

James singled out Mystics stars Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver in his message, praising them and the Mystics for a "great season." 

"I know it didn't end the way you’d have like but use it for motivation for next season," he added. 

Delle Donne responded to James' tweet with one of her own, assuring her fellow superstar she's already ready to start training for next year. 

Despite the finals loss, the Mystics can at least take comfort in the fact they have earned the respect of the NBA's best player. 

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