The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Bella Murekatete earns WNBA opportunity

Fifth-year senior signs training camp contract with WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury
WSU center Bella Murekatete jumps for a layup during an NCAA basketball game against UCLA, Jan. 22. 2023 in Beasley Colisuem.

Bella Murekatete has played under the bright lights of Las Vegas and up and down the West Coast in women’s basketball’s best conference, but on Tuesday afternoon, she secured herself an opportunity to play on her biggest stage yet.

The WSU fifth-year center and first Rwandan to play D-I women’s basketball signed a training contract with the Phoenix Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association one day after the draft.

At WSU, Murekatete set four program records with the most rebounds (990), blocks (188), games played (153) and starts (145) in WSU women’s basketball history. Her 1,552 career points are fifth in WSU history.

Murekatete averaged 11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game while playing in each of WSU’s 36 2024 games.

She was key to WSU’s 2023 Pac-12 Tournament Championship in Las Vegas. Murekatete averaged 13.8 points per game in 2023 and provided 21 points in WSU’s Pac-12 Tournament Final win over UCLA, a team which included her new teammate.

Murekatete joins a Mercury team that includes fellow rookie and Pac-12 program record holder Charisma Osborne of UCLA.

Osborne set UCLA program records in 3-pointers made (282), 3-pointers attempted (873), games played (152), games started (150) and is second all-time in points scored (2,272).

Phoenix drafted Osborne No. 25 overall and Nebraska guard Jaz Shelley 29th overall.

In the college All-Star game April 6 in Cleveland, Murekatete paced her team with seven rebounds and added 2 points and two steals.

Murekatete is a two-time All-Pac-12 Conference Player and made several appearances on the Lisa Leslie Award watchlist, reserved for the best center in women’s college basketball.

“I’m just really living the dream that I manifested, all this I manifested and I’m blessed and thankful to God that I can be on that list,” Murekatete said in a Feb. 2023 Daily Evergreen article.

Murekatete was a cheerful team leader for the Cougs, with a habit for smiling which often spread to her teammates.

“When she smiles the room lights up. When she enters the room there’s a big presence. She’s really engaging, she’s got great chemistry with our team,” head coach Kamie Ethridge said. “She’s playful, she smiles easy, she laughs at herself easy. She’s got a great sense of humor.”

Murekatete will travel to Phoenix, Arizona to attempt to make the Mercury’s roster. If successful, she would be the only active Coug in the WNBA.

The Phonix Mercury opens the season at 7 p.m. May 7 versus the Seattle Storm at Climate Pledge Arnea, granting Murekatete the chance to make her pro debut in the state where her college basketball career flourished.

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About the Contributors
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.
COLE QUINN, Evergreen Sports Photographer
Cole Quinn is a photographer and columnist for the Daily Evergreen. Cole primarily shoots sports for the Daily Evergreen and writes album reviews in his spare time. Cole is a junior broadcast production major and sports communication minor from Snoqualmie, Washington. Cole started working for the Evergreen in the fall of 2020 as a photographer. Cole was the Photo Editor during his sophomore year and Deputy Photo Editor for the fall 2022 semester.