Sky

Cardoso Brings Champion’s Flair to Transitioning Sky

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If one’s team were down two with a second left, and any woman could take the shot, who would one choose?

Caitlin Clark? Good choice.

Sabrina Ionescu? Perhaps even better.

In the SEC tournament, however, South Carolina boldly chose a player who had made a total of…

Zero threes in her collegiate career?

For Kamilla Cardoso, the new face (alongside Angel Reese, of course) of a resurgent Chicago Sky franchise, 1.1 seconds proved plenty to continue the Gamecocks’ perfect season.

Happily, Cardoso will have more than one second in her WNBA career. With a 40-game regular season promising immense intrigue for a league that’s never experienced more popularity, Cardoso brings her southern hemisphere’s hoops passion to a Windy City ever-hungry for basketball glory.

More Than One Play

It must tire for fans of one-hit-wonder programs to hear about one great play ad nauseam.

Cardoso, though, provided much more than her dagger trey.

After one season in Syracuse, she contributed entirely off the bench in her sophomore and junior seasons at South Carolina. After losing all five starters from their 2023 Final Four squad, the Gamecocks fell to sixth in last preseason’s AP top 25.

Cardoso and her South Carolina dynasty, however, are far past shooting for anything but the champion’s bullseye.

Cardoso contributed mainly through defense. She earned the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2024, along with unanimous All-American honors. (Good luck getting voters to agree on anything in our polarized era!)

Cardoso was more than a regular-season wonder. She received the nod for Most Outstanding Player in the Albany Regional and Final Four.

Still, no matter how great one’s accomplishments in college, higher education is, at its best, superb training for the “real world.” Judging by her sterling response post-draft, the Brazilian Baller is more than prepared for her promotion to professional hoops.

Pizza Pizza

After the draft, Cardoso, brilliant with optimism after Chicago selected her third overall, revealed that she had not been to Chicago yet.

So much the better, then, to experience its cosmopolitan beauty with newcomer’s eyes.

“Hi, so, it’s actually going to be my first time in Chicago; I’m really excited,” Cardoso said. “I’ve heard really good things about it. Like, some of the best pizzas and I’m excited to get there.” After the press room rumbled with laughter, Cardoso chuckled along, with just a “no?”

Rest assured, Cardoso will have plenty of dining opportunities. Pizano’s Pizza, conveniently, offers tasty food across the street from Wintrust Arena.

(Author’s note: The Lead wasn’t compensated for that compliment, it’s a sincere suggestion!)

With training camp started and the Sky’s preseason games already tipping on Friday, how does Cardoso project to contribute as the Sky begin its second year post-Candace Parker dynasty?

Scoffers Backpedal Out of Bounds

New Chicago coach Teresa Weatherspoon faces a significant challenge in 2024. The Sky traded its last contributor from the 2021 championship squad, Kahleah Copper, to obtain the draft capital needed to sign Cardoso and Reese.

Considering the certain dominance of Las Vegas and a (long overdue!) enthusiasm in Indianapolis, where Clark begins her WNBA career, the Sky must reach for the stars if the franchise is to return to the playoff moon.

Fortuitously, they have Cardoso, whose electrically positive nebulous is already threatening to create a blue giant.

True, the term “new era” can invoke fatigue in sports fans. How many periods can there be in the rapidly ascendant world of women’s sports?

If even 1.1 seconds are enough for Cardoso to reach a tournament final, perhaps one season is plenty of time for the Sky to pivot towards the Finals penthouse.

Just as she waited patiently for the final inbound that fateful Saturday, while her scoffer defenders backpedaled too far away, so too do the dazzling streets of Sky-town beckon as Cardoso takes her first bold step in the WNBA.

About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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