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Minnesota Lynx Sign Guard Kayana Traylor to Hardship Contract

Traylor joins the Lynx after Head Coach Cheryl Reeve told reporters on Sunday that Jess Shepard (illness) and Aerial Powers (ankle) have no timetable for return.

Chicago Sky v Minnesota Lynx Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to Minnesota, Kayana Traylor!

The Minnesota Lynx announced prior to practice on Monday that the team signed Traylor — a 5-9 guard from Virginia Tech who was the No. 23 overall pick in this year’s WNBA Draft — to a hardship contract.

This move comes one day after Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve at practice on Sunday told reporters that neither Jess Shepard (who has missed the team’s last four games with an illness) nor Aerial Powers (who has been sidelined for the last six games after spraining each ankle consecutively) have a timetable for return. After attending part of Thursday night’s loss to the Connecticut Sun, Shepard was unable to attend practice on Sunday, while Powers did not practice but was in the building.

Additionally, starting guard Tiffany Mitchell (left wrist) is out for tomorrow’s game vs the Seattle Storm, too.

Traylor, who played for three seasons at Purdue before transferring to Virginia Tech for her final two, played shot 33.0% from deep in each of her final two collegiate campaigns, and will serve as another dynamic handler capable of creating her own shot and getting into the paint. Collapsing the paint and driving the baseline will be an important area for Traylor to make a difference while Mitchell is out.

The former Hokies star averaged 11.0 points on 43.6/33.0/79.6 shooting splits, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists over 35 games as a fifth-year senior in Blacksburg, helping lead her team to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, during which Virginia Tech ultimately fell to Angel Reese and eventual champion LSU during the 2023 Final Four in Dallas.

“Obviously, we’re down a couple of guards. So, depth particularly at the 2 guard spot. A little more depth, a little more speed,” Reeve told Canis Hoopus on Monday. “I think those are things that when we looked for the hardship that we want it to be different than what we have. We wanted it to be a young player that we can get a look at, and that’s why Traylor is here.”

Don’t expect her to play point guard just yet, though.

“I don’t know at this point, I won’t even bring up the idea of ‘Can K run the 1 at all?’ We’ll give her a little more time before I spring that possibility on her,” Reeve said with a laugh after Monday’s practice.

Lynx fans may remember Traylor from the preseason game in Toronto, in which she scored 13 points in 17 minutes in front of a sold out crowd to help the Chicago Sky win the WNBA’s first ever game in Canada.

“She’s been on the big stage before. Doesn’t come in intimidated. She looked pretty confident. She’s athletic, gets to places. She’s trying to learn what we do,” Reeve added. “You’ll see her out there.”

The Lynx’s newest addition is expected to be available for the team’s next game, a home game at Target Center against the Seattle Storm on Tuesday night. Fans can watch the 7 PM CT tip on Bally Sports North Extra or CBS Sports Network.