Abby Meyers paves the way for the next generation of Jewish WNBA players

There is a very short list of Jewish women basketball players who have ever stepped onto a WNBA court. Part of that list is an even smaller group of players who have ever been selected in the first round of the WNBA draft. First, there was the legendary Sue Bird, and now, there is young star Abby Meyers.

Already a standout athlete in high school, Meyers played multiple varsity sports at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. Most known for her basketball talent, Meyers was part of an impressive Whitman team that made three state semifinals from 2015 to 2017. Her breakout year came during her junior season in 2016, when she led the Whitman Vikings to their first girls basketball state championship since 1995. Finishing the title game with 21 points, Meyers capped off Whitman’s dominant postseason run in style. Meyers credits her coach and teammates for the success their team was able to find that season. “It was a really special year. It felt like I had a new role and confidence,” Meyers said. “Coach [Peter] Kenah taught me how to lead by example and work hard to reach my potential.
I had a great system around me to help each other realize our goals.” Together as one unit, the Whitman girls basketball team left a lasting impression on the school’s basketball program, and inspired the next years of players to come.

Finishing her senior year at Whitman as the school’s all-time leading scorer with over 1,700 points, Meyers set her sights on continuing her playing career in college, and committed to Princeton University in 2017. Immediately making an impact off the bench during her first season, she played in every game and recorded 10 or more points in over half of the team’s games that season, including a season-high 19 points against Dartmouth in February, 2018. In the Princeton Tigers’ Ivy League Tournament Championship matchup against Penn, Meyers led the team with 18 points in 20 minutes to close out her stellar freshman year.

She continued to impress at Princeton through her senior year with the Tigers, where she averaged 17.9 points per game as the team’s leading scorer. Meyers also recorded the first two double-doubles of her career, and scored a career-high 29 points during the TIgers’ NCAA tournament first round matchup against Kentucky. Meyers’ biggest accomplishment during her time at Princeton was the 2022 Ivy League Player of the Year Award, which she described as “the cherry on top to a rollercoaster story.”

Although an impressive player in each of her college seasons, Meyers believes that her playing career in college was not linear, and that she learned the most about herself from all of the ups and downs. “People come into college thinking it’s going to be a simple escalation from freshman to senior year; that it’s going to get better each year and you’ll feel like a big fish in a small pond. But that doesn’t always happen,” she said. However, she is grateful for that feeling at the end of the journey where she knows she accomplished something special. “To set goals and finally be able to reach my full potential was such a great feeling,” Meyers said after winning the award. She was relieved that her hard work and long hours in the gym had paid off, but showed no sign of slowing down.

After her senior year, Meyers still had one year of college eligibility left. She learned that Princeton didn’t allow fifth-year students to participate in their athletics, so she was faced with a difficult decision. Meyers entered the transfer portal, and awaited responses from teams. As fate would have it, the first school to reach out to her was her hometown team, the University of Maryland Terrapins. “Of course I grew up watching [their women’s team] play, so it was almost like a dream. Like, Maryland reached out to me?” remembers Meyers. She decided to commit to UMD for her final year of eligibility, stating the importance of her respect for their program and the new ability of her immediate and extended family to come watch her games. “They were so supportive and showed how much they cared, so it was really a no brainer.”

Meyers took one stop, however, before beginning her fifth year at Maryland, and that was to travel to Israel to compete in the 2022 Maccabiah Games for Team USA. Although it was her first time in Israel, she knew a few Ivy league players who were also competing in the Games and felt she already had a good community going into it. Team USA dominated most of the tournament, led by Meyers and her impressive range. Set to face Team Israel in their gold medal game, Team USA’s opponent had one main pregame goal: limit Abby Meyers. Team Israel put up a fight, but Team USA was able to win in commanding fashion to secure the gold medal. Although emphasizing that the tournament was more about basketball than anything else, Meyers felt very grateful to celebrate her Jewish heritage with so many other Jewish athletes from around the world. “Everyone brought their own level of Judaism to the tournament,” she said. “It was a really cool experience to tap into that different side of me and my identity.

She noted that back at home, her Judaism was very prominent from a cultural perspective. She grew up going to synagogue on all major holidays, and enjoyed most when she got to spend time together with her family during each holiday. “We always come together as a big family and celebrate where we came from,” Meyers said. She has also found that the Jewish communities at every school she’s been to, especially Maryland, have made her feel more supported in athletics and on campus.

Beginning her final season at Maryland in 2023, Meyers continued to be unstoppable. Averaging 14.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, Meyers was a talented and consistent force, and natural leader on the court. As one of the key parts of Maryland’s 2023 March Madness run, she again credits her teammates for their historic postseason. “There was so much talent on our March Madness team,” Meyers said. “We stuck to the process, bought in, and trusted each other.” The team advanced all the way to the Elite Eight, losing a hard-fought game 86-75 to the number one seed South Carolina. Meyers knocked down 14 points and grabbed five rebounds while going 2-3 on 3-point attempts. Essential to the team’s dynamic ball movement and fast-moving offensive system, Meyers was really proud of the way her team fought until the end. “We took the bull by the horns and ran with it. Not many teams make it to the elite eight so it was a great accomplishment to be there with this group.”

Meyers transitioned to focusing on the 2023 WNBA draft following her last year of college basketball, and felt extremely fortunate to be drafted 11th overall by the Dallas Wings. She knew how hard she’d worked to be playing at such a high level, and is excited to go out and show everyone the hardworking, dedicated player that she is. “It was a dream come true,” Meyers said of her draft experience. “To hear my name called with my family and friends’ support was such a surreal moment.”

And it means even more to her to be included in such a special list of Jewish WNBA players, especially the elite company she followed on draft day. “Someone told me the other day that Sue Bird and I are the only Jews to be drafted in the first round of the WNBA draft, and I just think that’s so incredible to be in that company,” Meyers said. She knows that Bird’s are big shoes to follow, but is excited for the opportunity to prove herself on the big stage. “It’s really cool that Jewish fans of the women’s game can have someone else to rally behind,” Meyers said, following Bird’s retirement from the WNBA last year.

Meyers is more than ready to record that assist and lead the next generation of Jewish players to success in the WNBA and beyond.

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1 Comment

  1. Sheila Butler

    Abby was essential for the Terps last year.without the questionable foul calls against South Carolina we would have had a chance.I will be watching Abby and Diamond throughout the season

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