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Shoni Schimmel is surprise MVP after record-breaking All-Star Game

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Seven women were chosen ahead of Shoni Schimmel in this April’s WNBA Draft. Now the rookie from Louisville and the Atlanta Dream is the All-Star Game MVP.

Schimmel scored 29 points, breaking the record Candace Parker set in Connecticut last year, going 7-of-16 from downtown, and also dished eight assists during the Eastern Conference’s 125-124 overtime win over the West in Phoenix Saturday.

“It’s been a blast,” Schimmel said. “The fans look up to me and be a role model, all of those fans who voted me in, it means a lot. I’m thankful they all got the chance to be here or to watch it on TV.”

At 22, she was the youngest player in the game, just by over a month than fellow rookie Chiney Ogwumike, and at 5-foot-9, only Briann January and Ivory Latta were shorter. There was no intimidation, however, going against a slew of future Hall of Famers and Olympians.

“When you play with Showtime Shoni, it’s a great experience,” Ogwumike said. “We feel really blessed to be here, her job tonight was to shoot the ball anytime she gets it.”

Averaging 7.2 points and 3.5 assists in Atlanta, her jersey is the WNBA’s leading seller, and she is extremely popular in the Native American community, evident with large ovations in both Friday’s practice and Saturday’s game.

Schimmel has a history of defying the odds, not only coming from a reservation, but taking the Cardinals to the national title game as a junior in 2013 as a No. 5 seed and upsetting Brittney Griner’s heavily-favored Baylor team in the Sweet 16.

“She was having fun,” said East coach Michael Cooper, who also coached the Dream. “She had a smile on her face out there, she stepped up to the highest level, It was a great moment. I’m so proud of her, doing some of things I’ve been talking about over the course of the season, attitude, passion on the floor, being able to see things before they happen.”

At 15-6, the Dream holds a five-game lead on Indiana and is the prohibitive favorite to come out of the East. On an All-Star team that also includes Erika de Souza and Angel McCoughtry, the next step seems to be if Schimmel will be the factor that allows the team to finally win a game in the Finals, where it is 0-9 between three series in the past four years.

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