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Caitlin Clark, Rookies Humorously Put On the Spot at Fever Practice [Watch]

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Caitlin Clark and her fellow Indiana Fever rookies got put on the spot after Thursday’s practice. They had to lead the team in singing happy birthday to Fever guard Erica Wheeler as shared by the Fever social media team.

A ninth-year WNBA veteran, Wheeler, 33, plays guard as Clark does and the two have become fast friends since the Fever took Clark with the No. 1 pick in the draft on April 15. Clark didn’t have to sing solo since the Fever have two other rookies on the roster — Leilani Correa and Celeste Taylor.

Wheeler continues her second stint with the Fever this season. Undrafted out of Rutgers in 2015, Wheeler played for the Atlanta Dream and New York Liberty as a rookie before she joined the Fever in 2016.

She emerged as a regular starter with the Fever in 2016 and averaged double figures twice during her four-year stint. Her peak with the Fever came when  earned the WNBA All-Star Game MVP in 2019, the first time an undrafted player achieved that.

Wheeler’s career low point hit during COVID-19 when she missed the 2020 season due to serious health complications from the virus. She returned to the WNBA for 2021 with the Los Angeles Sparks and then played for the Dream again in 2022 before a Fever reunion in 2023.

Last season, Wheeler started 40 games as she averaged 9.9 points, three rebounds, five assists, and 1.1 steals per game. She accepts that the minutes will be harder to come by with Clark in the picture.

“All she wants to do is do whatever this team needs, whatever she needs to do for us to be successful,” Fever head coach Christie Sides explained about Wheeler at Monday’s press conference.


Eric Wheeler Took Caitlin Clark Under Her Wing

Wheeler has done things that don’t get seen on the court in relating to Clark, embracing her as a new teammate. The veteran guard has become like a big sister to Clark.

“I put it as like — you know when you go to a different school, the first day of school you don’t know anybody? And you find that one person that says hi to you that becomes your best friend,” Wheeler told reporters on April 30.

“For me, I just wanted to get ahead of it, because I know this transition is tough. Just being undrafted and being a rookie, it’s very unlikely that a vet will just take you in when you got the same position,” Wheeler added.

Competition is stiff for playing time in the WNBA. Teams carry 12 players for the season.  Three of the 15 players at training camp will get cut before the regular season tips off.

“And I think oftentimes people forget I’m a great person before a basketball player. So, for me as a big sister, I’m gonna take the first step. Just let her know we’re here, we got you. Whatever you need from me as your vet and even in the same position, I got you,” Wheeler said.


Erica Wheeler Considers Caitlin Clark as Humble

For Wheeler, she sees Clark as someone who hasn’t let the wild fame go to her head. Clark’s stardom shot up in the past two years, especially amid two Final Fours, the NCAA scoring record, and post-draft hype.

“She’s been doing a great job accepting and receiving [advice] from me,” Wheeler said. “As you know, she’s one of the biggest players in the world right now. And, she don’t act like that.”

“She’s like, ‘Help me. In any way you can.’ It’s definitely in a sweet way. There’s no ego at all, she’s not selfish. You can tell she wants to be here and she wants everybody around,” Wheeler added. “So, it’s just welcoming to me, because she’s a high-caliber player. Her actions are not selfish at all. She wants to learn. She wants to be a family and I’m like a big sister to you.”

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