The Washington Mystics will open training camp today without any roster players from last season because they are either finishing up their seasons overseas or injured.
The Mystics will have a mix of 12 free agents and rookies at Trinity College in Northeast with veterans trickling in over the next few weeks. Third-year guard Nikki Blue, who enters camp as the No. 1 point guard after Nikki Teasley was released, is expected to be the first returnee Tuesday.
All-Star guard Alana Beard, who had offseason shoulder surgery and is playing in Russia, should return in midweek. Starters Monique Currie and Nakia Sanford will be back once their foreign commitments are over, but starting forward DeLisha Milton-Jones has asked for a trade and is likely to sit out this season if she is not dealt.
“Although it will be a challenge since the majority of the Mystics players are competing overseas, it will be an opportunity for us to see who can step up and show they belong in the WNBA,” Washington general manager Linda Hargrove said of training camp.
Two reserve forwards, first-round 2007 pick Bernice Mosby and 6-feet-7 Gillian Goring, had arthroscopic knee surgery and will miss some time.
Even this season’s first-round draft choice, Crystal Langhorne from Maryland, is not expected for another week. The sixth overall pick, Langhorne is playing with the USA national team. The 6-1 forward may be forced into a starting role if Milton-Jones is a no-show.
Tree Rollins, the interim coach last season after Richie Adubato resigned, will begin his first full season. Washington finished with a 16-18 record and failed to make the playoffs in 2007.
The biggest competition should be at point guard between Blue and Amber Jacobs, a free agent who played for Minnesota last season. The preseason roster also includes Sarah-Jo Lawrence, an undrafted rookie guard from George Washington.
The Mystics, who open the season May 17 at the Indiana Fever, will have two of their three draft picks in camp: second-round selection Lindsey Pluimer, a 6-4 forward from UCLA, and 6-1 forward Krystal Vaughn, a third-round pick from Virginia Commonwealth.
When: Today through April 29
Where: Trinity College
New faces: Draft picks Crystal Langhorne (first round, Maryland), Lindsey Pluimer (second round, UCLA), Krystal Vaughn (third round, Virginia Commonwealth).
Preseason opener: May 5 vs. Sacramento in Tampa, Fla.
Season opener: May 17 at Indiana Fever
Last season: 16-18
Projected starters: F Crystal Langhorne, F Monique Currie, C Nakia Sanford, G Nikki Blue, G Alana Beard.