Esmery Martinez: First Dominican to play in the WNBA

Esmery Martinez on 15 April 2024 became the first Dominican woman to be drafted to the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The better news is that she was drafted to the WNBA by a team that has played in the last two league finals.

Martinez heard her name called as the 17th overall pick (5th in the 2nd round) by the New York Libery, which lost to the Las Vegas Aces in the 2023 WNBA Finals.

Martinez will join former Pac-12 stars Sabrina Ionescu, Kennedy Burke, and Nyara Sabally as well as perennial MVP candidate Breanna Stewart in New York. The 6-foot-2 forward is described in Arizona sports media as “a ferocious rebounder who worked to increase her range and handles in hopes of playing the three as a professional”.

Esmery Martinez has the attractive Caribbean look that has made the Caribbean Queens (Reinas del Caribe) famous for their volleyball playing around the world.

In the Dominican Republic, the Ministry of Youth had awarded her the International Youth Prize in 2024. She was born in Hato Mayor in the Dominican Republic and has played for national teams.

Martinez didn’t start playing basketball until she was 14 when she followed her younger brother, Lando, into the gym.

Once Martinez started making some shots, all her focus turned to basketball and in just a few years, she was on the Dominican Republic National team. She played in the 2018 FIBA Caribbean Championships and averaged 8.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a teenager.

Martinez played in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders camp in the Bahamas in 2017 and came away with MVP honors.

Many scouts were at the tournament and one in particular who was from the Dominican Republic suggested she play two years of high school in the United States so she could earn a scholarship to college.

She played her junior year of high school for powerhouse Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She led her team all the way to runner-up of the GEICO High School Nationals Tournament. In that one season she averaged 18.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 5.9 blocks per game. In her senior year she tore her ACL and was out for the entire year.

She won a scholarship to play with the University of Arizona Wildcats and enrolled in sports management.

The Women’s National Basketball Association – colloquially known as “The W” – is a women’s professional basketball league composed of 12 teams, all based in the United States. The league was founded on 22 April 1996, as the women’s counterpart to the National Basketball Association, and league play started in 1997.

Read more:
Noticias SIN
Arizona Desert
Arizona Wildcats
PAC 12

16 April 2024