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WNBA fans heading to Indiana for the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend should come prepared with an outfit worthy of the draft stage. That's because the league is creating a draft day simulation at NBA Crossover, the multi-day fan event located at the Indiana Convention Center. 

The WNBA interactive activation is inspired by the Indiana Fever holding the first overall pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft. Last year, the Fever picked South Carolina standout Aliyah Boston with their No. 1 pick. Before we find out who Indiana picks in 2024, fans can imagine they are chosen by the Fever, or any of the 12 WNBA teams. 

This is the second time the WNBA has participated in NBA Crossover, but the first time in one of their own markets. 

"We're gonna allow fans to express their fandom with the experience and be able to choose what team they want to be 'drafted' by first overall," WNBA chief marketing officer Phil Cook told CBS Sports on Tuesday. 

Rendering of WNBA Draft activation at 2024 NBA Courtside during NBA All-Star Weekend. 

The league announced Thursday that fans can customize their interactive WNBA Draft experience through a tablet stand before they make their way to the stage for a photograph. The activation will also feature a lounge-like seating area flanked by two walls, one with the images of former WNBA No. 1 picks on their draft day and the other with the jerseys of all 12 teams prominently displayed. 

"You'll have your choice. It will be if you were drafted number one, who would you want to be drafted by, and we'll give you that opportunity to hold that jersey," Cook explained. "You'll hold up that jersey and you'll get your photo there. Then you can walk through the experience and see some of the jerseys of some of the players who have been drafted in the past. And you'll get to your final photo op, which will be [yourself] taking a photo in front of the mirror."

Cook confirmed WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert will surprise a few lucky fans during their "draft" to make the experience even more authentic. She won't be the only person from the league stopping by the activation. 

Included in the press release is a tentative schedule for player meet and greet opportunities. Six current WNBA players from the 2024 PMA cohort will stop by the WNBA Draft activation throughout the weekend. 

Tentative player appearance schedule at the WNBA Draft activation:

*All times ET

  • Friday, Feb. 16: Connecticut Sun star Brionna Jones (3-3:30 p.m.)
  • Friday, Feb. 16: Atlanta Dream star Rhyne Howard (3:30-4 p.m.)
  • Friday, Feb. 16: Dallas Wings star Arike Ogunbowale (3:30-4 p.m.)
  • Saturday, Feb. 17: Washington Mystics star Shakira Austin (12:30-1 p.m.)
  • Saturday, Feb. 17: Indiana Fever star Aliyah Boston (1-1:30 p.m.)
  • Sunday, Feb. 18: Seattle Storm star Jewell Loyd (4-4:30 p.m.)

"Part of [the players'] opportunity is to come to All-Star and be a part of our experience there, and and they love it," Cook said. "They love the interaction with the fans. They love seeing what the other brands are doing. They love being at big basketball moments, and there are few moments on the basketball calendar bigger NBA All-Star Weekend."

Don't be surprised if other WNBA stars find their way to the WNBA Draft stage. Several other WNBA players will participate in the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend, including WNBA Finals MVP (or M'VP) A'ja Wilson. The two-time WNBA champion and Las Vegas Aces forward will be a coach for Team Stephen A. in the Celebrity All-Star Game. Nastasha Cloud (Phoenix Mercury) and Jewell Loyd will compete in the game. 

New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu will also be on hand this weekend, as she and Steph Curry will battle it out in a 3-point contest for bragging rights Saturday night. Ionescu recorded the highest score (37 points) in a professional 3-point contest last July at the 2023 WNBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. She beat Curry's best tally of 31 points. 

Although the rules of the contest state Ionescu can shoot from the WNBA 3-point line (22 feet, 1.75 inches), she will shoot from NBA range (23 feet, 9 inches). 

"Knowing that I had the opportunity to pick to kinda pick what line I wanted to shoot from, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to shoot from the NBA line," Ionescu said during a video press conference Tuesday. 

WNBA upping the ante

Fans will also have the chance to test their WNBA knowledge with questions about No. 1 picks in all of the previous 27 seasons. The newly "drafted" WNBA players will receive their photo and other giveaways reminding then to tune-in for the 2024 WNBA Draft in mid-April. The league will also use the activation to collect data points about their fans in the hopes they can continue to improve activations, whether at NBA Crossover, WNBA tentpole events, or events at the upcoming NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four in Cleveland. 

"We're going to have a more broad presence," Cook said. "And we're going to be in the media space. We're going to be taking out a home signage in those marketplaces with a WNBA brand voice like we've never done before. We're going to be on television in broadcasts for the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, as you know, launching our campaign for the year at the most highly-consumed time for women's basketball of the year." 

While the synergy is logical, we haven't always seen the WNBA tap into the women's basketball calendar, at least not this intentionally. Sure, current and former WNBA players can always been seen at the Women's Final Four. However, the league and its partners putting in marketing dollars is a new take on the organic overlap of the basketball community. 

"Cathy [Engelbert] has always inspired us to find ways to authentically be a part of the right moments at the right time," Cook said. "And they gave us the green light to really try to understand what is it that we want to say if we could get into Final Four media. What is it we want to say and how do we want to say it? We're able to solve for that this year. So we're very excited to launch our seasonal campaign in that very momentous moment for collegiate women's basketball tournaments."

None of the NCAA Women's Tournament locations are in direct WNBA markets -- Albany, N.Y. is several hours from both the New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun. However, sports are more accessible than ever before, especially with Athletes Unlimited and WBL Australian League competitions now featured on the WNBA app. The league will also have an opportunity to follow the journey of WNBA athletes expected to represent the U.S., France, Germany, China, Belgium and Canada once final rosters are announced for the 2024 Summer Olympics. 

Cook told CBS Sports success after this weekend will be measured in part on how well the WNBA Draft activation can engage fans with the Indiana Fever market in the 2024 season and beyond. 

"We have the luxury of being a phenomenal basketball league with 144 the best basketball players in the world, and that's unmistakable," Cook said. "So wherever there's basketball being played, we can authentically be a part of that." 

The WNBA activation at NBA Crossover will be open to fans beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on Friday. NBA Crossover will be open from 11-6 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.