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The best WNBA players age 25 and under

The WNBA is loaded with mega-talented veterans, including some certain future Hall of Famers. But as we count down toward the start of the 2018 WNBA campaign, let's take a quick look at a different section of the league's talent pool: top players who are 25 or younger throughout this season.

A couple of disclaimers: We haven't included the incoming rookies -- even though this is expected to be a very good class -- because they haven't gone through a WNBA season yet. And it's a bit of an arbitrary cutoff; players like Las Vegas' Kayla McBride, who turn 26 during the season, just miss.

Still, we highlight those who have established some star potential quite early in their careers. Now, where will they go from here? (Players listed in alphabetical order)

Allisha Gray, Dallas: The energetic multitasker

Gray, 23, was the No. 4 pick in the 2017 draft and went on to win rookie of the year honors, averaging 13.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.5 steals. With Liz Cambage (a former No. 2 draft pick) and AzurĂ¡ Stevens (this year's No. 6 pick) coming in to boost the Wings' inside game and overall defense, 6-foot guard Gray should continue to flourish. In her national championship season at South Carolina, Gray demonstrated that she can be a glue player, who fills in the gaps and won't shy away from doing the dirty work. Whether her scoring average goes up or down won't be the best way to evaluate Gray; instead, it will be the many ways she can impact a Wings team that really could make a jump in the next year or two with its stronger mix of talent.


Chelsea Gray, Los Angeles: An in-charge point guard

Gray -- who doesn't turn 26 until October, after this season ends -- is the only player on this list who already has a WNBA title. That was in 2016, when she came off the bench and played an important role for the Sparks in the latter part of that regular season and the playoffs. She started every game last season, averaging 14.8 points and 4.4 assists. She also led the Sparks in minutes played (33.1) and was confident stepping up to hit big shots, like the one she made to win Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. The 5-foot-11 Gray developed a good working relationship with coach Brian Agler and, as young as she is, still became a leader to her teammates. Having a point guard who is as confident a scorer as she is a distributor has been a key to many WNBA championship teams, and Gray is that kind of player.


Jonquel Jones, Connecticut: The interior dominator

A 6-foot-6 forward/center, the 24-year-old won the WNBA's most improved player honor last season. She started every game, averaging 15.4 points and a league-leading 11.9 rebounds. She stole the show at the All-Star Game with her dunk, but the flash doesn't define Jones. It's her production. She has the physical skills and the mentality to be one of the most valuable low-block players in the WNBA, but she also made 25 of 56 3-pointers last season and has 36 treys in her two years in the league. Having that ability makes her all the more difficult to guard (think Lauren Jackson). And her dominance on the boards should continue to be a huge asset for the Sun, who were 21-13 last season and look to stick around longer in the playoffs.


Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart, Seattle: The dynamic duo

The Seattle standouts -- Loyd is 24 and Stewart is 23 -- won back-to-back rookie of the year honors in 2015 and 2016, respectively. They seemed ready to take the Storm to a higher level in 2017, but it didn't happen. Seattle went 15-19 -- coach Jenny Boucek was fired in August -- and then lost to Phoenix in the single-elimination first round of the playoffs. It's inevitable that the 5-foot-10 guard Loyd and 6-foot-4 forward Stewart frequently have been compared to the Storm's other consecutive No. 1 draft picks: Lauren Jackson (2001) and Sue Bird (2002). Jackson and Bird won the first of their two WNBA titles in 2004, their third season of playing together. This will be the third season for Loyd and Stewart, and they have a new coach in longtime WNBA mentor Dan Hughes, who's looking for his first WNBA championship.

Stewart (19.9 PPG) and Loyd (17.7) led the Storm in scoring last season. Stewart was also the top rebounder (8.7) and shot blocker (1.6). Even if they don't yet have the same on-court chemistry as Jackson and Bird developed, they are complementary talents who can help boost each other's climb to greatness. With Bird now 37, and a new coaching regime, it's a big season for Loyd and Stewart to take that next step.


Elizabeth Williams, Atlanta: The steadying force

Williams, 24, began her WNBA career in Connecticut, where she was drafted, but she has found a home in Atlanta, where she has started every game the past two seasons. She averaged 10.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season. Williams is not going to blow you away with big numbers, but she is one of the consistent pillars for the Dream. She should fit well into what new coach Nicki Collen envisions for Atlanta: being a top defensive team that plays at a quick pace. The 6-foot-3 forward/center Williams moves well, and defense is her forte, going back to her college career at Duke. She also has a calm presence that her teammates can rely on, and more growth potential offensively.


Also keep an eye on: Las Vegas guard Moriah Jefferson, 24; Indiana guard Tiffany Mitchell, 23; Dallas guard Aerial Powers, 24; Atlanta guard Brittney Sykes, 24; Connecticut guard Courtney Williams, 24 on May 11.