Illini forward Karisma Penn signed a free-agent contract with the WNBA's New York Liberty Saturday.
April 20, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois senior forward Karisma Penn signed a free-agent contract with the WNBA's New York Liberty on Saturday. She will begin training camp with the Liberty on May 6, under the leadership of head coach and former Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer. New York opens the regular season Saturday, May 25, at the Connecticut Sun.
"I'm excited," Penn said. "Coach Laimbeer is a great coach and he's already won three WNBA championships with Detroit (in 2003, 2006 and 2008). Having the opportunity to go to New York and learn from him and his staff is exciting. It's a great opportunity for me to make a team, where if I had been drafted by a lot of the teams, I would have just filled a training camp roster versus having a real chance to make a team."
Penn had an incredible senior season, being named honorable mention All-America, first-team All-Big Ten and Illinois' team MVP. The Shaker Heights, Ohio, native averaged 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.91 steals and 2.18 blocks per game, while shooting 50.6 percent from the field on the season. She was the only player in the nation to rank in the top five in her conference in all five of those categories, standing second in the Big Ten in rebounds and steals, third in blocks, fourth in scoring and fifth in field-goal percentage.
"This is a great opportunity for Karisma," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "Coach Laimbeer has said a number of times that he's planning on keeping three or four rookies, so Karisma will have a chance to make a roster, which is pretty rare for players right out of college. She had a great senior year, so hopefully she can carry that momentum into training camp with the Liberty."
She also led the league in offensive rebounds (3.8 rebounds per game) and ranked eighth in minutes played (35.7 mpg). She ranked 25th nationally in steals per game, 28th in scoring, 29th in blocked shots, 35th in field-goal percentage and 59th in rebounding.