Second-generation pro basketball player Kiah Stokes stars with the Las Vegas Aces


UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Kiah Stokes is taking what her father, Greg Stokes, learned from the 76ers straight to the WNBA Finals.

“I guess I’ve always considered myself a daddy’s girl,” the Las Vegas Aces center told the Inquirer. “So I kind of assumed I would just do what he does. It doesn’t help that I’m 6-4.”

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Part of the Aces’ starting five, she ranks No. 5 in the league this postseason in rebounds (67) and blocks (8).

“It’s pretty cool [having a daughter in the WNBA],” Greg Stokes said. “They’re winning, so it makes it doubly fun. She’s having a great time … as long as she’s happy, I’m good.”

Overlapping with Charles Barkley and Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Greg Stokes played for the Sixers during the 1985-86 season. He played in 31 regular-season games and started in seven playoff games. He shot 47.1% from the field and averaged 4.1 points per game. In college, he starred as part of the “Twin Towers” alongside Michael Payne at Iowa, averaging a career 14.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

“She’s heard all those stories and stuff,” Greg Stokes said. “She’s probably sick of hearing them. … That’s kind of part of growing up, you hear what your old man did. I’m telling you how to do things. Sometimes she listens, and sometimes she doesn’t.”

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Kiah Stokes already has an Iowa high school state title and national championships at the college level (UConn) under her belt. All that’s left for her is a ring from the W.

“I don’t think it’s a lot of pressure,” she said. “I mean, all of us [on the team] have won at really high levels.”

On the other end of the court is Chris Koclanes, one of the Sun’s assistant coaches. Thanks to his sisters’ influence, his heart always followed women’s basketball.

“You have four older sisters,” Koclanes said. “I just kind of grew up around [women’s basketball].”

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One of those sisters, Belle, was named to the Drexel women’s basketball coaching staff ahead of this season. She had the same role at Penn between 2004-08 as well.

“She’s like my person [and has] been my mentor ever since I was born,” he said of Belle. “[I’m] just trying to be like here.”

Chris Koclanes also has Big 5 coaching experience, having spent two seasons with the St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team as a video coordinator.

“Philly hoops, Big 5 hoops is incredible,” he said.

Game 4 of the best-of-five series tips off at 4 pm Sunday in Connecticut. The Sun escaped a sweep Thursday night with a dominant 105-76 performance. Sun forward Alyssa Thomas, a Harrisburg native, registered the first ever WNBA Finals triple double with 16 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists. Jackie Young led the Aces with 22 points.

Earlier Thursday, Thomas was named All-WNBA second team along with Sun teammate Jonquel Jones, Sabrina Ionescu (New York Liberty), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), who also won the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award .

League MVP A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces), Kelsey Plum (Aces), Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Phoenix Mercury), and Candace Parker (Chicago Sky) were first-team All-WNBA.

If the Sun forces a Game 5, it will be a 9:00 pm winner-take-all showdown Tuesday in Las Vegas.

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