Fantasy Basketball

WNBA Draft: Grace Berger’s journey from Indiana Hoosiers to Fever

Grace Berger grew up just across the Ohio River from a state that she has now become synonymous with.

She’s from Louisville Kentucky, but chose to play college basketball at Indiana over Louisville and Kentucky. Now, she’s staying in the Hoosier State because the Indiana Fever selected her with the No. 7 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft on April 10. She will join South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, whose selection at first overall dominated headlines, at the Fever’s training camp, as well as No. 13 pick Taylor Mikesell (Ohio State), No. 17 pick LaDazhia Williams (LSU) and No. 25 pick Victaria Saxton (South Carolina).

The first word that comes to mind when describing Berger is classy. She’s pretty much the epitome of class, as is the woman who has defined the Fever franchise more than any other individual: Tamika Catchings. Catchings was ranked by ESPN as the second-best player in WNBA history in 2021 and stayed loyal to the Fever by playing in Indiana her whole career. She brought the franchise a championship in 2012. She also brought it a reputation as a class organization, a reputation that remains and that Berger can slip right into.

The Fever have been the worst team in the league two years in a row, but the addition of Boston and the return of free agent Erica Wheeler give them hope of making the playoffs this year. Berger has a chance to help their cause as well; she is known as the mid-range queen, is a triple-double threat with her rebounding and distributing and is just a flat-out winner.

Indiana returned to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2016 for the first time since 1983. It went to the second round again during Berger’s freshman season of 2018-19. But it was really 2019-20 when both the program and Berger individually arrived in the national spotlight.

The 2018-19 team actually had a losing record in conference play and was just a No. 10 seed in the Big Dance. The 2019-20 team went 24-8 overall and 13-5 in the Big Ten, earning it a No. 4 seed in Swish Appeal’s hypothetical bracket. Berger improved her minutes per game from 20.2 to 34.4 and her points per game from 5.5 to 13.4. She and Ali Patberg were the dynamic duo that turned the Hoosiers into a national power that year.

The following season, Indiana went 21-6 overall and 16-2 in the Big Ten to earn a real No. 4 seed — its highest seeding in program history to that point. It has since earned a No. 3 seed (2022) and No. 1 seed (2023) and been to two Sweet Sixteens and an Elite Eight, with the Elite Eight coming as a No. 4 seed during that magical 2020-21 season. That Elite Eight, which came when the previous-best finish in program history was the second round, will always be remembered in Hoosier lore, as will the No. 1 seed earned this past season. Berger was at the center of all of it.

So her legacy in the state of Indiana already stands tall. And, to reiterate, the Fever have drafted a true winner. We’ll have to wait and see if she becomes a big star in the WNBA, but, for now, it’s a feel-good story that the Indiana Fever of Indianapolis drafted a player that was so beloved just an hour south in Bloomington.

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