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Kate Martin makes Las Vegas Aces’ opening day roster

Martin is one of four second-round picks to make a roster as the league opens play Tuesday.

Former Hawkeye star Kate Martin officially a part of the Las Vegas Aces

NEW YORK — Former Iowa player Kate Martin made the Las Vegas Aces opening day roster after being chosen in the second round of the WNBA draft. Less than 24% of all second and third-round draft picks in the WNBA make the team’s opening day roster.

She is one of four second-round picks to make a roster as the league opens play Tuesday.

“I found out a few days ago and I cried,” Martin said. “I was so excited. I felt like a lot of hard work was paying off. Whenever you come into a team like this who are back-to-back world champions, you don’t really know what your odds are going to be. I was really proud of myself and really happy that I gave myself the opportunity to make the team and be alongside some great teammates.”

Martin went to high school in Edwardsville, Illinois before starting her college career with the Hawkeyes. Her mom and dad, Jill and Matthew Martin, recently moved back to the Quad Cities, which is a little over an hour’s drive from Iowa City.

“You know how hard it is to make this league and how few opportunities these ladies get and she’s making the most of it. I’m proud of her,” Matthew said about his daughter making the roster. “She’s able to make a living for herself and live out her dream at the same time. What a wonderful experience. She’s a great teammate. She’s a hard worker. She makes others better and she’s constantly working on getting better herself”

The other three second-round picks to make opening day rosters were fellow Aces teammate Dyaisha Fair, Nika Muhl (Seattle) and Celeste Taylor (Indiana). Martin was the only of the four who made a team not to be invited to the WNBA draft. However, she went anyway in support of her former Iowa teammate Caitlin Clark.

When she was drafted, she came out of the audience to have her draft moment on stage.

While it’s not automatic that first-round picks make rosters, all nine that attended camp, including Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, made their respective teams. In all, 13 of the 36 players drafted in April made the roster.

Not all the players left off the opening day rosters were waived by their teams. That included first-round draft picks Carla Leite (Dallas), Leila Lacan (Connecticut) of France and Nyadiew Puoch (Atlanta) of Australia. The three foreigners didn’t come to camp this year and those three teams still have their rights.

A couple of third round picks were also told not to even show up to camp and that they should just play overseas this year so that the franchises could retain their rights as well.

With only 12 teams and a maximum of 144 roster spots, the WNBA is one of the hardest leagues to make. A 13th team is on the way in 2025 with Golden State starting play. Some notable veteran players not to make opening day rosters included Monique Billings, Ruthy Hebard, Shey Peddy and Bria Hartley.

Even if players didn’t make a roster, just being in camp can be helpful down the road. The WNBA allowed teams to have 18 players in camp this year for the first time.

“It’s great as it gives us an opportunity to see more people in camp,” New York Liberty GM Jonathan Kolb said. “If you had to add players in-season for various reasons, we get a head start on that. It’s a great opportunity for them.”

For the players, being in training camp can help them get jobs overseas in the offseason. Stephanie Mawuli has been in New York’s training camp the last two seasons, but didn’t make the final roster either time. Being invited to camp last year helped her get a job playing in Spain in the winter.

“Everyone saw that I was in New York and it was a really good experience for me,” she said. “It means a lot to have a chance.”

Chicago gave Kysre Gondrezick a second chance. The No. 4 pick in the 2021 WNBA draft made the Sky’s roster this season after she was cut in 2022 by Indiana. Gondrezick managed just 1.9 points through 19 games before stepping away for personal reasons in her rookie season.