Injured Sky forward Azura Stevens looks to rebound

Azura Stevens was acquired in an offseason trade that sent 2019 first-round pick Katie Lou Samuelson to the Wings. | Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

Sky forward Azura Stevens is rehabbing in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, with the support of family. Sky forward Azura Stevens is on the mend after her WNBA season was cut short by surgery on her left knee.
She is rehabbing in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, with the support of family.
‘‘I’m doing really well,’’ said Stevens, who is hoping to be cleared for action by training camp. ‘‘I’m starting to do some strengthening and stuff, which is good. We’re kind of at the healing phase right now, so I’m just taking it day by day and really just not trying to rush things. That way, I’m not having to deal with it next year.’’
Stevens is in a similar place that she was a year ago. Her 2019 season also ended with a procedure, that one on a nagging foot injury that had been bothering her from the previous offseason.
“That’s just life,’’ Stevens said. ‘‘Things come up unexpected. You can’t always plan for everything.’’
This time around, however, Stevens said the rehabilitation process has been more mentally taxing.
‘‘It’s not always the easiest because, obviously, I’m not able to play right now,’’ she said. ‘‘. . . It’s definitely been a growing process and taught me to accept things with open arms. Things don’t always go the way that you planned, but all you can do is accept it and move forward. That’s been something I’ve been learning and going through, but it’s definitely molding me to be a better person and player.’’
Before her injury, Stevens — acquired in an offseason trade that sent 2019 first-round pick Katie Lou Samuelson to the Wings — was in the midst of a comeback season.
She started all 13 games she appeared in for the Sky and posted career highs in points (11.5 per game) and rebounds (5.9 per game) while shooting 50% from the field.
‘‘It definitely was like a new beginning for me with a new organization, a new team, all that, and having been off the court for a while,’’ Stevens said. ‘‘It definitely was a good start to the season, and . . . even through the games that I played, the amount of growth and stuff that I had was pretty encouraging, especially after all the work I put in in the offseason.’’
Stevens has another long road to recovery, but she plans to return to the court soon. That said, she doesn’t have an exact timeline of when that might be — and for good reason.
‘‘I don’t really like dealing with timelines as much because things always come up,’’ she said. ‘‘Mentally, I’ve noticed sometimes if you get stuck on a timeline, you can tend to forget to listen to your body, which is the best guide that you have. So there’s a couple of dates I’m shooting for, but there’s nothing set in stone.’’
Stevens said she’ll be back next season, ‘‘which is what’s most important.’’ She’s keeping a razor-sharp focus on the future and looking forward to what the Sky can accomplish with a healthy roster in 2021.
‘‘Until you’re done playing, you always have areas to grow,’’ Stevens said. ‘‘You never arrive at any level or you never reach any level that you can’t get a little bit better in a certain area. So I think last [season] was just encouraging for me, coming back off my injury, and now I’m looking to improve on everything that I did last [season] coming out [next year].’’

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