Now in training camp, Cox working toward her debut with the Fever

Lauren Cox at her first Indiana Fever practice on July 29. Indiana Fever photo.
Lauren Cox at her first Indiana Fever practice on July 29. Indiana Fever photo.

Two practices into her rookie season, Indiana Fever forward Lauren Cox said she is focusing on cardiovascular conditioning and getting back into the rhythm of playing.

“I’m feeling good,” she said. “I’ve got a few practices under my belt and now I’m just trying to get back in shape and get my touch back.”

The former Baylor standout forward made it to the Bradenton, Florida “bubble” this week and stepped on to the court with Indiana for the first time Wednesday, after testing positive for COVID-19 almost a month ago. Cox, drafted No. 3, said fitness, and learning her teammates and a new playing system are top priorities.

“I’ve been able to do everything (recently) except get up and down a basketball court and play pick up. I’ve been trying to stay in shape, but nothing compares to actually getting up and down the court……I’m trying to get some minutes in and get my wind back.”

For the Lady Bears, where Cox and her teammates won a National Championship in 2019, she played for Hall of Famer Kim Mulkey. First-year Fever coach Marianne Stanley also has an extensive coaching resume, but has a much different system. Cox said she is adjusting.

“Getting used to the plays is the biggest thing for me, because for the last four years I’ve run some completely different stuff,” she said. “I’ve got to switch gears and learn the new defenses and the new plays.”

“Then the physicality (of the WNBA) will be the other big (adjustment) for me. It will definitely be hard, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Cox is no stranger to adversity. She was diagnosed with type I diabetes as a small child, and has had to manage the disease with the challenges of being an athlete. During Baylor’s title game, she went down with a knee injury. She returned to play last November and a week later, injured a foot bone. In March the NCAA Tournament was canceled.

But Cox said despite her coronavirus diagnosis, opting out of this season wasn’t a consideration.

“My toughness comes from having diabetes the past 15 years of my life,” she said. “I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles, but I love the game of basketball and I wanted to play this season. I wanted to get this experience as a rookie and see where I was at, talent-wise.”

“Nothing was going to stop me from playing this season.”

Cox said she has had to teach her past coaches and trainers how to help her manage her diabetes for playing, and she expects to do the same with Indiana. She has all of her medical supplies with her.

Last year the Fever drafted center Teaira McCowan, who with Cox should give the team some long-needed paint presence.

“I’m excited to play with T,” Cox said. “I think we’re going to develop some chemistry on the court – maybe get the high-low game developed a bit.”

For right now, however, Cox and Indiana are focused on building on their 1-1 record, as they take on the Dallas Wings tonight. Though she won’t see playing time, she knows her mission.

“Defensively is going to be my biggest role, and then offensively, whatever they need from me, whether it’s…passing inside, scoring from the perimeter, scoring inside, rebounding,” Cox said. “Whatever it is, I’m willing to do it.”

She said she has enjoyed getting to know her new teammates this week.

“I think we have a lot of really good potential,” Cox said. “Last game we really started to click. With each team (we face), we’re going to get better and better.”

The Fever tipoff with the Wings at 8 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.