Born out of her now famous ‘dawg mentality’ and a need for a smoother transition to pro basketball that Kelsey experienced firsthand, Under Armour and Kelsey Plum recently hosted the inaugural Dawg Class powered by UA NEXT. Held at IMG Academy, this three-day camp set out to help women college athletes navigate their journey from college basketball to the professional level. In honor of Kelsey’s jersey #10, Kelsey, as the tenth player, engaged with nine of the top women’s college basketball guards on and off the court, providing them with the tools and insights to succeed as a first step to increasing equity in sports.
The inaugural 2023 Dawg Class roster included Azzi Fudd, Deja Kelly, Diamond Miller, Georgia Amoore, Gianna Kneepkens, Hailey Van Lith, KK Bransford, Raven Johnson, and Rori Harmon. Each of the nine guards were hand-picked by Kelsey not only for their on-court skills but also for their shared dawg mentality, hunger for more, and commitment to lifelong personal growth. The roster included a great mix and range of talent from the second pick in the 2023 WNBA draft, NCAA Champion and All-Americans – allowing each athlete to apply unique lessons for the next stage of their career.
“Ultimately, I’m here to change the game for the next generation of women's basketball. These athletes have proven they have the skill and talent, and I'm here to cultivate their dawg mentality - their grit, voracity, determination - so they are prepared and ready to face the next level of their careers.”
Kelsey Plum, Professional WNBA Player for Las Vegas Aces
Kelsey knows firsthand the kind of grit that going pro requires. Despite being the #1 overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft, she struggled to feel confident in her preparation for professional basketball and her ability to navigate it successfully. Even with coaches and family in her corner, she lacked the time, resources, and support to feel empowered during this major change. Reflecting on these struggles, Kelsey knew she had to do something to change this process for future players—enter Dawg Class. With a shared commitment to providing access to young women in sports, Under Armour and Kelsey Plum worked together to create a new reality for the next generation of women athletes.
At Dawg Class, Kelsey led the athletes through numerous sessions both on and off the court. Each day consisted of multiple on-court sessions where the athletes learned new skills, honed aspects of their game that needed improvement, and shared tips with their fellow participants to help each other level up. These sessions were led by Kelsey and her performance team, providing each of the nine players with personalized, one-on-one coaching.
“Dawg Class has taught me about consistency, which will be crucial to my success in the league. The camp was jam packed, with a lot of workouts in one day and I forgot how much that takes a toll on your body. When you take a break and come back, your body is adjusting to the speed of the game and you still have to be consistent. Training camp with the WNBA in a few weeks is no joke and I am going to have to play even when my body hurts and is tired. So sore or not, you got to get the job done.”
Diamond Miller, #2 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft
Many players go to a basketball camp to improve their physical technique, but not every camp focuses on off-the-court skills. Kelsey and the team heard from various experts throughout the experience who provided advice on three key areas needed to succeed beyond physical skills: mental preparation, brand building, and first-hand account of making the jump from one level to the next. The mental preparation session led by David Elaimy focused on how to combat external and internal interferences to perform at their peak. A panel with Charece Williams Gee (Sr. Director, Head of Sports Marketing & Partnerships at Under Armour), Kelsey Plum (Professional WNBA Player for Las Vegas Aces), Shell Dailey (Director of Girls Basketball/Head Coach at IMG Academy), and Zack Miller (Head of Women’s Basketball at WME Sports) discussed personal brand building, navigating brand partnerships and blocking the noise to stay focused. Thirdly, Chelsea Gray, 2x WNBA Champion, shared her journey from college basketball to the pros highlighting the challenges she dealt with during her rookie year, how she persevered into the leader she is on the court today, and the overall differences between being a college vs professional athlete.
To say the first iteration of Dawg Class was a success is an understatement. The weekend was filled with learning moments, deep-seated grit, and a hopeful start to a new chapter. Yes, the goal of this camp was to help these athletes smoothly transition from college to the professional level, but it was more so about receiving the support every player should have to succeed. Too many athletes aren’t able to receive the off-court resources they require and Under Armour and Kelsey were determined to help remedy this inequality for up-and-coming players. Dawg Class gave these women the opportunity to see the real benefits of taking on a dawg mentality and now they can build a brand for themselves and leave a lasting imprint on professional basketball.