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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Reunited in Texas: Lexie Hull’s WNBA offseason workout plan has her playing in Dallas, just three hours from sister Lacie

Lexie Hull dribbles while participating in Athletes Unlimited this offseason.  (Courtesy of Jade Hewitt)
By Stephen Hunt For The Spokesman-Review

DALLAS – Lexie Hull recently embarked on a new basketball adventure.

Hull is one of 44 participants in Athletes Unlimited , a player-focused league in its second season where captains pick teams each week of a five-week campaign. Players then earn points for individual and team successes with the top points earners winning awards at season’s end.

“Yeah, it’s been a few months since I’ve played a five-on-five game, so super excited to have this opportunity to play with and against some people I’ve seen play or have played with in Indiana,” Hull said. “I was just getting ready for the WNBA season and felt this was a great opportunity to get back into game shape.”

After playing its inaugural season in Las Vegas in 2022, AU is playing its 2023 campaign from Feb. 23 through March 25 at Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, an ideal location for this Spokane native because her twin sister, Lacie, now lives three hours down the road in Austin.

“Yeah, this is the closest we’ve been distancewise since we were at Stanford. It feels good to have someone in the same state, a nice, drivable distance,” Hull, 23, said. “I’m looking forward for her to come visit me and if I have an off-day to go and visit her.”

The sixth pick in the 2022 WNBA draft by Indiana, she played 26 games (four starts) as a rookie, averaging 3.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per game in just under 13 minutes. And like many WNBA newcomers, she views her debut campaign as one full of lessons. “It was a season of learning. Obviously, (with) our record (a league-worst 5-31), wasn’t our best season. But I think the lessons we learned and the experience with me playing a good amount of minutes as a rookie was super beneficial,” Hull said.

Once her rookie season concluded, the Central Valley product pondered playing overseas, but after talking to former Stanford teammate DiJonai Carrington about her 2022 experiences in AU, she opted for this player-driven league, where Fever teammate Kelsey Mitchell, and Carlos Knox, Indiana’s interim coach for part of 2022, are also participating.

“The way this is set up and the power it gives the players is super special. It’s fun because you get to choose your team and how it’s run,” Hull said. “To have that power and authority is super awesome. It’s something we’ve never had before, but I love it because everything is catered to the athlete. That’s super special and something that could be incorporated into every league.”

One unique aspect of AU, which also has leagues in lacrosse, softball, and volleyball, is its athletes represent philanthropic organizations or causes. Hull is playing for Katie’s Save, named for former Stanford soccer standout Katie Meyer, who was found dead in her dorm room in March 2022 of an apparent suicide.

“Her family is doing a good job trying to bring awareness to mental health and being advocates for student-athletes. I felt this was the perfect opportunity to not only play for Katie’s name but for a great cause and something that truly means a lot to me and the Stanford community,” Hull said. “It’s awesome to be able to know everything I’m doing on the court this season is going towards something I really care about.”

Since the end of the WNBA season last August, Hull has been dividing her time between Bradenton, Florida, where her boyfriend, Will Matthiessen, an outfielder in the Pirates organization and fellow Stanford product, has been rehabbing after surgery, and Indiana.

“This offseason has been great. I’ve been living most of it in Florida with my boyfriend just working out, training,” she said. “Every month, I went a week back to Indy to do some marketing appearances and workouts with the coaches. Kind of been jumping all over the place, but it’s been great. It’s been a great reset. Definitely feel I’ve had the opportunity to get in the gym, get stronger and work on my game.”

Whether it’s been at Stanford, where she was part of a national championship squad in 2021, or in her one season in the WNBA, Hull has never lost sight of what it means to represent Spokane every time she hits the hardwood. She keeps tabs on how fellow local products like Jacob and Tanner Groves are faring at Oklahoma and other Spokane natives still playing the game they love.

“Spokane breeds some really good basketball players. I know a lot of them are still playing and it’s super awesome to have that 509 connection across the basketball world,” Hull said. “I know there’s people overseas, there’s people everywhere still playing, still pursuing the game. They have my support and I know they’re supporting me.

“It’s a super-tight community for sure.”

In the meantime, she’s enjoying her time with AU basketball and when not playing, looks forward to exploring Dallas, somewhere she has only previously visited in short spurts. In fact, she will return there in late March for the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four at American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas, home to the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

“I’m excited. I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far. I’ve never really been to Dallas for an extended period of time, but they truly do have everything, so many professional sports, so many things to do and places to visit,” Hull said. “After the season, I’m planning on coming back, either going and staying with Lacie in Austin for a couple days and then I’ll be here for the Final Four. Super excited for that, to support hopefully Stanford there again. So, hopefully I’ll get to watch my former teammates play here.”

Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.