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WNBA star, MSU alum Aerial Powers embraces gaming

April 13, 2022
<p>Minnesota Lynx small forward Aerial Powers greets Brady Merchant, son of Michigan State women&#x27;s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant, as they play Call of Duty Warzone in the Communication, Arts and Sciences building on April 7, 2022. Powers returned to Michigan State, where she hails as a Big Ten Champion, to host the gaming event.</p>

Minnesota Lynx small forward Aerial Powers greets Brady Merchant, son of Michigan State women's basketball head coach Suzy Merchant, as they play Call of Duty Warzone in the Communication, Arts and Sciences building on April 7, 2022. Powers returned to Michigan State, where she hails as a Big Ten Champion, to host the gaming event.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

WNBA star and Michigan State women’s basketball alumna Aerial Powers made a return to campus to share her love of gaming by playing Call of Duty: Warzone with participating students. The event was sponsored by Coinbase and Team Liquid and took place in the Communication Arts and Sciences building, where she once attended classes as a student.

“It’s been a crazy experience coming back and not only that I’ve had classes in this actual building that we just did the Coinbase event in,” Powers said. “I need an extra year of eligibility because this looks so cool. I'm so jealous.”

Upon leaving Michigan State, Powers became the highest draft pick in MSU women’s basketball history, being selected fifth overall in the 2016 WNBA draft by the Dallas Wings. 

After becoming a WNBA champion with the Washington Mystics in 2019, she’s taken her career to new heights by entering the world of video game streaming. In early 2021, she made some big career moves by signing with the Minnesota Lynx and becoming a streamer and diversity ambassador with Team Liquid.

“Gaming has always been a part of my life since I was young and even when I was in college here I would bring my system up to play with my family and friends that were back at home and it was just this way to be connected,” Powers said. “Then I really got known for more (diversity, equity and inclusion, or) DEI stuff and my passion for showing gamers are not just men, like women like to play games too and we’re good at it.”

Team Liquid isn’t the only program Powers has been an ambassador for, MSU women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant said. Merchant coached Powers from 2012 to 2016.

“She’s special,” Merchant said. “She knows how to do things right. She’s great with people. She’s such a tremendous ambassador for our program and for the university.”

Merchant has always been a supporter of Powers and her new business venture, an opportunity she wishes she would have had during her time in East Lansing. 

“It’s really unfortunate that they didn’t have name, image, likeness when she was here because I think the gaming and being a female in gaming certainly even a minority female in gaming you don’t see that very often so to see what she’s done to really position herself in a niche market and grow that industry is really rewarding,” Merchant said.

Merchant also made sure Powers was able to meet with her current team at practice to give some words of wisdom to the next generation.

“Aerial’s kind of the Draymond (Green) of women’s basketball and these kids really look up to her and so when she comes back they listen,” Merchant said.

Draymond Green attended Michigan State from 2008-to 2012 before becoming an NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors and has been very active in the community, often coming back to East Lansing to help out the next generation of Spartans. This isn’t the first time Powers has heard this comparison, but it’s one she loves hearing.

“I love it because I admire Draymond and everything he’s done in the NBA and MSU, how he’s very outspoken,” Powers said. “I admire that and that’s actually a compliment for me because he’s a beast at everything on the court and off the court and that’s what I wanna be. I wanna be a beast and help my community in any way I can.”

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