Lady Rebels’ star center Desi-Rae Young signs with Phoenix Mercury

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Desi-Rae Young lifts trophy after winning Mountain West championship on March 8 against Wyoming 71-60. Photo by Kalin Sipes.

Lady Rebels’ Desi-Rae Young announced on April 17 that the Phoenix Mercury signed her to a training camp contract.

The training camp contract will give Young a chance to compete for a roster spot during training camp and the preseason.

“Thank you to everyone who pushed me to be great,” Young said in a statement posted on X. “Things never come easy! But this has been a dream and goal since I was 12 years old. Huge shoutout to UNLV for allowing me to showcase my talent in front of my family, friends, and the Las Vegas community. I can’t wait to showcase my talent at Phoenix Mercury and prove that I am built for this. I love you all❤️ #23out.”

The three time Mountain West Player of the Year played four seasons for the Lady Rebels, leading the team to a 102-22 record and three consecutive Mountain West championships.

Young finished her career strong, averaging 18.3 points per game along with 9.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shot 56.8% from the field in her senior season.

The 6-foot-1-inch center was recognized nationally in her senior season being selected as a Top-10 finalist for the Lisa Leslie award, given to the best center in NCAA Division I basketball. She was also selected for the preseason and mid-season watchlist for the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year award. Young was voted the Mountain West Player of the Year, and earned a spot on the All-Mountain West team for the third time in her collegiate career. 

Young is the first Lady Rebel to sign with a WNBA team since former guard Essence Booker, who also signed a training camp contract with the Mercury in April 2023. Booker currently plays for the Faenza Basket Project in the Italy-Serie A1 league. 

In Young’s high school career, she was selected by the Las Vegas Sun to the “Super Seven” team, which includes the best girls basketball players within the valley. She led the Desert Oasis Diamondbacks to the Southwest League championship and the program’s first ever 4A state tournament. She also led them to the Desert Region championship and the 4A state finals. After the championship run, she only received two Division I scholarship offers out of high school, from UNLV and Pepperdine. 

Despite only having two offers out of high school, Young became a pivotal piece for the Lady Rebels. Under head coach Lindy La Rocque, she helped lead the Lady Rebels to three Mountain West Championships and three NCAA tournament appearances. She earned the Mountain West Freshman of the year, made the Mountain West All-Freshman Team and was the All-Conference Team Honorable Mention in her first year with the team.

In her final collegiate appearance in the Round of 64 against Creighton, she put up 30 points, the most points from a Lady Rebel in a NCAA Tournament game. She also became the second Lady Rebel to surpass the 2000 point mark against the Blue Jays.

“I am so proud and very excited for Desi to start the next chapter of her basketball career,” La Rocque said. “She’s worked very hard to be a professional and now she is seeing that come true. She will always be one of the greatest Lady Rebels of all time, and I can’t wait to cheer her on for years and years to come.”

WNBA training camps open on April 28 and the Phoenix Mercury will play its first preseason game against Young’s hometown team, the Las Vegas Aces, at Michelob ULTRA Arena on May 14.

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