Welcome Back: Three 2018 Absentees Making Their WNBA Returns

After missing the 2018 season for one reason or another, these three players are ready to re-assert themselves.

Given the volatile nature of WNBA rosters (teams are allowed to carry up to 12 players, and in some cases roll with just 11), it's difficult for players (even established ones) to keep their place in the league if they are forced to miss extended time. It's very much a "what have you done for me lately?" scenario, and with more and more talented players entering the WNBA in every draft class, veterans can find themselves on the outside looking in quickly.

Because of this, there are a few names that might be flying under the casual fan's radar. The following players all missed the 2018 season, but figure to play vital roles for their respective teams now that they're back in the WNBA. Don't sleep on them...

Shenise Johnson (Indiana Fever)

Johnson, a 5-foot-11 shooting guard, re-joins the Fever after taking 2018 off to rehab an ACL injury. That injury didn’t deter Indiana head coach and general manager Pokey Chatman from re-signing Johnson before the 2018 season, and now we finally get to see what she’ll bring to Chatman’s rebuilding squad.

After spending her first three seasons in San Antonio, Johnson was traded from the Stars to the Fever, where she made a name for herself as one of the WNBA’s more efficient young scoring guards. Her strongest campaign came in 2015, when her 41.3% three-point percentage ranked third in the league and she contributed 3.5 win shares during the Fever’s most recent Finals run.

Johnson’s ACL injury somewhat derailed her rise, but as she gets herself back into playing shape, she’ll have the opportunity for a new role: veteran leader off the bench. Now 28 years old, Johnson will be expected to tutor youngsters like Kelsey and Tiffany Mitchell, as well as provide her scoring punch as a sub for the defensive-minded Betnijah Laney.

Bria Holmes (Connecticut Sun)

The athletic Holmes will be spending her third WNBA season -- and her first as a mother -- in Connecticut. Originally drafted by Atlanta in 2016, Holmes embodied the team’s “Run With The Dream” philosophy as well as anyone, and had a solid start to her career as a spot starter before announcing her pregnancy.

That didn’t deter the Sun, who traded for Holmes before the 2018 season with the knowledge that it was making a long-term investment.

Now, Holmes makes her WNBA return on a stacked Connecticut team where minutes must be earned. While she played over 20 minutes per game in both of her seasons in Atlanta, it’s unlikely Holmes reaches that mark with the Sun, who will be giving Alyssa Thomas the biggest role of her career and has bench players like Morgan Tuck and Rachel Banham to consider.

That doesn’t mean Holmes’ skill set won’t be useful in Connecticut. The Sun likes to play just as fast as the Dream, so Holmes’ athleticism and dribble-drive ability will be a handy asset. The added depth means that the team will be able to play at the pace it wants without riding its starters too hard. Look for Holmes to do most of her damage in the Sun’s deadly transition game.

Isabelle Harrison (Dallas Wings)

At just 25 years old, Harrison is now with her third WNBA franchise. She played for the Phoenix Mercury in 2016, the San Antonio Stars in 2017, and is now with Dallas as part of the Wings’ return for Liz Cambage.

Such a career arc doesn’t reflect the type of player Harrison truly is. At 6-foot-3, she’s undersized for a post player, but her energy and athleticism more than makes up for her height. During her breakout 2017 season, Harrison averaged 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as San Antonio’s starting center.

Now that she’s back in the WNBA, Harrison figures to be a part of a Wings frontcourt rotation that is young, skilled, and explosive. She’ll be playing alongside fellow Tennessee alum Glory Johnson and the versatile Azura Stevens, and while we don’t have a good handle on what Brian Agler is going to do with his rotations yet, it would be a good bet that the steady Harrison sees at least 20 minutes per game, either as the Wings’ de facto center or as their first post player off the bench.

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