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Katie Douglas back in WNBA All-Star Game after back surgery

Katie Douglas won the 1999 NCAA title with Purdue.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Perhaps the best story going into Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game is the return of Katie Douglas.

Douglas played only four games last season due to injury and the year before had to watch as her Indiana Fever teammates upset Minnesota in the Finals without her.

Now with Connecticut, the 35-year-old is re-energized and scoring 13.5 points and leading the WNBA in three pointers, en route to being named an All-Star for the fifth time, which she will play in Phoenix at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s definitely my most special All-Star to be a part of just because of the adversity and the injuries that I’ve faced at the end of 2012 and all of last year,” Douglas said during practice Friday. “Then having back surgery last November and having the training to prepare myself for this WNBA season, not playing overseas and never having done that my career, I’ve always played overseas and came over here and was ready. So it’s a huge task and a huge challenge for me. It’s definitely gratifying to come here, and being selected by the coaches means an awful lot, especially the people back in Indianapolis who have helped me get healthy, my surgeon out in LA, the people in my circle who have helped me for so many hours.”

Thursday night, Douglas had a masterful game at the Phoenix Mercury, with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds, although the Sun would fall 101-85.

“She couldn’t think a year ago that she’s where she is this year,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said Thursday. “It speaks volumes to who she is, what kind of work ethic she has and her commitment, after back surgery, you might have a good season, but to be a WNBA All-Star outright is well deserved.”

Surrounding Douglas, the Sun (10-14) start three 22 year olds and second-year point guard Alex Bentley. No. 1 overall draft choice Chiney Ogwumike is leading the team with 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds, while Alyssa Thomas and Kelsey Bone each score around nine points per game.

“It’s been awesome,” Douglas said of the young talent. “Chiney has a motor that never stops, no matter what happens out there, she’s always giving her best, giving her all, she’s so eager and hungry to learn, and she’s going to be a face of this league and of our franchise. She’s been amazing, and I look for her to continue to improve and grow.”

Returning to the All-Star Game also reunites Douglas, who was event’s MVP in 2006, with former teammates.

“A big story for me is to have the opportunity to play with Bri (Briann January) and Tamika Catchings,” Douglas said, “my teammates, we’ve been through a lot of wars together, and also to be to be here with Chiney in her first All-Star, I’m thrilled to be her teammate.”

January, out of Arizona State, is making her first All-Star Game appearance, while Catchings, who turns 35 on Monday, is in her record-tying ninth game.

“It’s more fun this year because there are so many Indiana Fever players,” Catchings said. “Once you’re a part of the Fever, you never go away, even if you go to another team, you’re still considered one of the Fever.”

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