Atlanta Dream’s Erika de Souza Joins Teammate McCoughtry on WNBA All-Star Team

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    Atlanta Dream center Erika de Souza has been named to replace injured Eastern Conference All-Star Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky in the Boost Mobile 2013 WNBA All-Star Game. The announcement came from the league after President Laurel J. Richie made the selection.

    For De Souza, this will be her second All-Star appearance, as she joins teammate Angel McCoughtry, who was elected as a starter for the East squad. De Souza was previously selected in 2009. This year’s All-Star game will be nationally broadcast on ABC, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

    The 6-5 de Souza, who is the only player remaining from the Dream’s 2008 inaugural team, is the franchise’s all-time leader in rebounds (1,179), blocked shots (200), field goal percentage (.535) and double-doubles (47).

    This season, the Brazilian center is currently averaging 11.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. She ranks fifth in the WNBA in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage (.536), and holds a franchise-record streak of five consecutive double-doubles, averaging 14.0 points and a whopping 14.2 rebounds in those five contests. Her seven double-doubles this season ties her for third best in the league.

    It remains to be seen whether de Souza will be placed in the starting lineup since she will be replacing a starter. Starting positions for the All-Star games are determined by fan voting, and Delle Donne is the first rookie to lead the All-Star voting, collecting 35,646 ballots.

    Atlanta’s McCoughtry received 18,523 votes to finish third among frontcourt players in the Eastern Conference. It marks the second time McCoughtry has been voted to the All-Star Game as a starter, having previously been selected in 2011. She earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2009 after being drafted No. 1 by the Dream. McCoughtry also led the league in scoring and steals last season, averaging 21.4 points and 2.5 steals per game while helping the Dream to its fourth consecutive playoff appearance.

    McCoughtry currently leads the WNBA in steals (3.5), and ranks second in scoring (20.2), fifth in assists (5.0) and 20th in rebounding (5.7).

    Meanwhile, Chicago’s Delle Donne, who has had an impressive start to her first year in the league by averaging 18.2 points a game, has already stirred talk about capturing this season’s Rookie of the Year honors. However, the former University of Delaware star and No. 2 pick in this year’s draft was scrapped from the All-Star game after reportedly suffering a concussion during the Sky’s loss to Washington last Wednesday while going for a loose ball in the third quarter.

    “It’s unfortunate that I am unable to be a part of All-Star weekend,” Delle Donne said. “I was very excited to join the other players for a memorable experience. It’s upsetting not only for me but also for the fans who voted for me. The most important thing for me at this time is to rest and recover for the second half of the season.”

    Joining McCoughtry as starters for the Eastern Conference will be Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings, who received 27,921 votes, New York Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter with 18,265 votes, and Chicago Sky guard Epiphanny Prince, tallying 16,083 votes. Indiana’s Lin Dunn will coach the East.

    The West starters, coached by Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve, will be Los Angeles Sparks center Candace Parker (33,810 votes), Lynx forward Maya Moore (31,635 votes), Phoenix Mercury center Britney Griner (22,185 votes), Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (26,019 votes), and Lynx guard Seimone Augustus (18,454 votes).

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