One of the New York Liberty’s “baby vets” has re-upped with the team after developing a three-point prowess.
Kiah Stokes is taking home quite the souvenir from her visit to Florida.
Hours before her New York Liberty’s Bradenton bubble finale against the Dallas Wings on Sunday (12 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Go/CBSSN), Stokes was granted a contract extension through the 2021 season. The University of Connecticut alumna is set to wrap up her fifth season with the team after arriving as a first-round pick (11th overall) in 2015.
“Kiah is an integral part of our team and she has shown tremendous growth in her game both offensively and defensively this season,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a team statement. “As one of the best shot blockers in the league, her physicality and ability to stretch the defense is something that is integral to the Liberty’s culture and future success.”
Stokes, 27, is one of the most experienced players on a Liberty roster hosting six rookies, having returned to the team after spending all of the 2019 WNBA season overseas. She is the only player to start and partake in every Liberty game this season. In only her fourth season, Stokes became the Liberty’s all-time leader in blocks (at 187 entering Sunday).
This season, Stokes discovered a newfound three-point prowess, encouraged by the oversight of new head coach Walt Hopkins. Having taken only three in her WNBA career entering the bubble, she took 83 this season. She sank a career-best five in Saturday’s showdown with the Washington Mystics.
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) September 12, 2020
It’s possible that this newfound talent could fit in well when the Liberty’s sharp-shooting veterans Rebecca Allen, Marine Johannes, and Asia Durr presumably return in 2021. Each opted out of the Bradenton setup in the wake of the ongoing health crisis.
“Stokes has been a rock for this group in a lot of ways,” Hopkins said prior to Sunday’s game. “In spite of her going through what has to have been the most difficult mental season in terms of being uncomfortable, when you’re uncomfortable, you’re able to grow.”
A Cedar Rapids native, Stokes is the daughter of former NBA draft pick Greg Stokes, who played two seasons in Philadelphia and Sacramento. She is also well-accomplished on the international level, earning back-to-back Turkish Women’s Basketball Cups with Fenerbahçe, a long-running squad based in Istanbul.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags