Grace Berger

Grace Berger Has Made Quick Adjustment to AU Pro Basketball

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2024 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
Stephen Hunt
Mar 11, 2024

Grace Berger’s first week in Athletes Unlimited Pro Basketball was an absolute whirlwind, but she’s not complaining.

After completing her rookie season with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever last September, she ventured abroad for the first time, playing with Spain’s Gernika KESB for three months before getting injured. 

After returning to the States, she reached out to AU Pro Basketball about playing in Dallas in 2024, but there were no available spots. However, at about 10 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, she received a phone call out of the blue. 

“(AU Director of Sport for Basketball) Megan Perry sent me a message asking me to call. I called her right away, (she) said a spot had opened up,” Berger said. “I was excited.”

At the time, Berger was in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky with her parents and two days later departed for Dallas to join AU. After talking to Lexie Hull and Kelsey Mitchell, Fever teammates last season, she knew exactly what to expect. 

“I knew this league has a lot of great players. It was something I wanted to do to challenge myself, especially when preparing for my second WNBA season,” Berger said. “It was a quick turnaround, but it was really exciting. “I’ve asked them (Hull and Mitchell) a bunch of questions. They’ve told me how it works.”

And in a nice twist, she found herself on Team Hull in Week One, and as she did during her successful collegiate career in Indiana, where she was a three-time first-team All-Big 10 Conference selection, she did a little bit of everything, averaging nearly 11 points, four rebounds, and five assists over her first three games. 

“The point system’s cool because it’s not just focused on scoring. Being able to do other things is important,” Berger said. “Being a versatile player will be helpful going into the next W season.”

On and off the court, it’s been a seamless transition for Berger, something she credits to the outstanding AU staff who made her instantly feel welcome and who ably assisted her with basic tasks to ensure she could focus on returning to the court. 

“They’ve been great. Obviously, it was a quick turnaround to get me here and then I only had a couple days to prepare for my first games,” she said. “They made sure I was set up and my living conditions were good. They moved me in right away. The medical staff has been great, helping get my body right to play three games in four days, which is a lot. The facilitators have been good in letting me know what to expect. Everyone’s been really welcoming.”

Berger, who is playing for Players for Pits, a dog rescue organization based in the Chicago area which gives second chances to pit bull-type breeds, has also enjoyed the off-court activities which AU organizes for its players as ways for them to get to know one another better and as learning experiences.

“Today (March 6), we had a history lesson with people from the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women). People who played women’s basketball in the 1970s gave us a history of what the experience was for the trailblazers in our game which a lot of people don’t know about. That was really cool,” she said. “They’re providing experiences for us, not just on the court a good experience, but a great experience off the court as well.”

Speaking of different experiences, even though her first taste of playing overseas was unfortunately cut short by injury, Berger took away plenty of positives from her time in Spain. 

“Getting hurt was a bummer just because you move over there. Obviously, you don’t want to have to pack up all your stuff,” she said. “You want to be able to finish out the year, but it was still a great experience. It was a different playing style, but I think that’s really good to experience that, take some things from their game, the European style, and hopefully bring that back and add it to what the game’s like here. The refs let you play over there. The players are more physical for sure. That will help me going into the next season of the W when we’re playing against the best athletes in the world.”

And after hearing Hull, the 2023 AU Defensive Player of the Year, talk last season in Indiana about how much she loved the AU experience, Berger knew it would be a great way to prep for the upcoming WNBA season. 

“It’s perfect timing. It’s four weeks, a perfect timeline heading into training camp. You’re playing against WNBA competition every game,” Berger said. “I’m getting to guard vets in the W. They’re getting to guard me and I’m getting to test out different things I’m hoping to use in this upcoming year.”


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

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