Dawn Staley Has 5-Word Response to Ace’s Rookie Kate Martin’s Viral Debut

Kate Martin

Getty Kate Martin of the Las Vegas Aces reacts after blocking a shot in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Sparks.

Up until now, Las Vegas Aces rookie guard Kate Martin has primarily been known as the teammate of superstar Caitlin Clark, but that’s likely about to change after Martin’s WNBA debut on May 18.

Martin and Clark played together at Iowa for four years, going to two NCAA championships. When Clark was drafted No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever, Martin showed up in support — and wound up getting drafted herself.

The Aces snagged Martin at No. 18 in the second round, and she could prove to be one of the draft’s biggest steals.

In her debut against the Los Angeles Sparks, Martin played 26 minutes and finished with 3 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. It was Martin’s massive block of Sparks’ 6-foot-1 center Li Yueru that really got people’s attention, though, including current South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.

“Kate Martin is a G!,” Staley posted on X shortly after Martin’s block.

Dawn Staley Wasn’t the Only One Reacting to Kate Martin’s Debut

Staley is very familiar with Martin; her Gamecocks were eliminated by Iowa in the NCAA tournament in 2023 only to beat the Hawkeyes in the finals this year. The Gamecocks coach wasn’t the only one to notice Martin’s game, though.

The Aces’ rookie played dogged defense throughout the team’s 89-82 win over the Sparks. She made a few errors, including a regrettable turnover late in the game, but other than that, Martin’s WNBA debut had her trending on X.

“I absolutely loved that the Aces drafted Kate Martin. Just a solid player that does so many of the little things well,” Jemele Hill of The Atlantic posted.

“Kate Martin might end up with the best rookie debut game out of the whole class,” former WNBA and UConn star Renee Montgomery wrote on X.

“A month ago, Kate Martin was drafted in the second round with the 18th overall pick, from her seat among the audience,” one fan posted. “Today, she made her WNBA debut and provided critical minutes for the back-to-back champs in a close win.”

Martin’s teammates were also stoked to see the rook perform so well.

“It was cool seeing all her hard work pay off,” Aces guard Jackie Young said about Martin after the team’s win over L. A. “She spends a lot of time at the gym, comes in on off days. She just brought a lot of energy today. She’s an energy player. She just comes in and does the right things.”

Las Vegas guard Kelsey Plum was also loving Martin’s defense:

Martin May Have One of WNBA’s Best Stories This Year

It’s early in the season, but if Martin continues to contribute the way she did against the Sparks, her story will be one of the better ones in the league — particularly if the Aces can cement their dynasty and win their third straight championship.

A month ago, she was a long shot to make the Aces’ roster. Now, she is setting herself up to be a key role player on the WNBA’s best squad.

“I found out a few days ago and I cried,” Martin said about making the team, via the Edwardsville Intelligencer. “I felt like a lot of hard work was paying off. Whenever you come into a team like this who are back-to-back champions, you really don’t know what your odds are going to be. I was really proud of myself and happy I gave myself the opportunity.”

It’ll be exciting to see what Martin continues to do with that opportunity.

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