Lynx forward Jessica Shepard to stay abroad, miss 2024 WNBA season

The Minnesota Lynx will be without one of their key rotation players this upcoming season.

The team announced Wednesday that forward Jessica Shepard will miss the entire 2024 season, as she plans to stay in Italy to fulfill commitments to her international club, Umana Reyer Venezia.

Minnesota noted that Shepard is subject to the league’s collectively bargained prioritization rules, which now require players to report to their WNBA teams by the start of training camp or miss the season.

Umana Reyer Venezia’s schedule is slated to run through May 5.

Last year, Shepard was Minnesota’s second-leading rebounder at 7.1 per game, behind only Napheesa Collier, and played the third-most minutes per game on the team, behind only Collier and Kayla McBride. Additionally, she chipped in 8.1 points and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 51.6% from the field, so her decision certainly leaves a void for the Lynx.

Shepard has spent all four of her years in the WNBA with the Lynx after Minnesota selected her 16th overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft.

Minnesota is scheduled to open the season on May 14 at Seattle.