Devereaux Peters was drafted third overall in the 2012 WNBA Draft in April by the Minnesota Lynx. Despite being injury-prone, she’s proved herself ready to play thus far.
At Notre Dame, Peters had two knee injuries and three surgeries in her first three seasons. “In the women’s game, [previous injuries] can play a part. I tried not to concentrate on that and just work on getting back to the college game,” she recalls.
The 6-2 forward eventually returned to form and helped the Irish reach consecutive NCAA title games in her final two seasons — the school’s first Final Four trips since its 2001 national championship season.
Peters also became a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year in those two seasons, including becoming only the second NCAA Division I player to register at least 75 blocks, 75 steals, and 75 assists in a season — the first since Tennessee’s Candace Parker in 2007-08.
Her 363 total rebounds were second-most for one season in school history, and she was the only Big East player to rank among the top 10 in three major defensive categories in her senior season: rebounding (1st), blocked shots (3rd), and 10th in steals.
Despite such excellent final collegiate stats, concerns about her earlier knee problems arose among several WNBA general managers. “I felt that she played enough after her injury to show me she was ready,” says Minnesota Coach Cheryl Reeve.
Lynx Center Taj McWilliams-Franklin says she feels Devereaux is a “smart player, sees the game well, and has a lot of internal go. You don’t have to get on her about making a mistake, as she self-corrects herself.”
Although Devereaux is just a rookie, she seemingly plays with the wisdom of older, more seasoned players. Reeve says she is playing a lot more than expected, averaging 10.4 rebounds per 40 minutes this season. “She has worked her way into more situations, even though she has been plagued with foul trouble, which has been her M.O. since college,” notes the coach.
“Because she played at Notre Dame,” surmises Taj, the 14-year veteran, “she was already ready to play in the WNBA. I may help her with little nuances of the game, and make suggestions to tweak her game here and there, but the coaches are doing a great job with her.”
However, Peters once again was struck by the injury bug — she broke her left hand July 5 at Los Angeles. Asked how that affected her, the rookie says, “It pretty much heals on it own. I am doing hand strengthening exercises.”
As a result, she only missed three games. “It gives her a chance to look at the game from another perspective,” reports her coach. “You can learn a lot from being out.”
Peters returned to action August 17, the first game after the month-long Olympic break.
Devereaux believes her rookie season is going well — she is 10th in scoring, tied for 10th in assists, ninth in rebounding, and third in blocks among first-year WNBA players. But she’s not complacent: “I can always do better,” says Peters.
She poses problems for opposing players because of her build: She’s 6-2 but very long. She will go after the block, will play you hard in the post, and she is not going to make it easy for you to get a basket.
The rookie has shown that she is ready to play at this level and contribute to a team that has some depth. She looks great in a Lynx jersey, the fans love her, and she has proved herself in every game she’s played in thus far. Devereaux Peters is making a statement that she is here to make an impact for the Lynx.
Sheri Crockett welcomes reader responses to [email protected]