As many of you will already know by the time you read this column, GW women’s basketball player Kimberly Beck was selected in yesterday’s WNBA Draft. She was chosen 36th overall, as the third-round pick of the Seattle Storm, becoming the first GW player taken since Ugo Oha and Cathy Joens in 2004.
It should come as no surprise to GW fans that Beck will continue her career at the professional level, since throughout her four years in Foggy Bottom she has established herself as one of the best players in GW history.
Beck is not only a talented player, but a very consistent one. She led the Atlantic 10 conference in assists four straight years en route to becoming the conference’s all-time assists leader. The likely reason experts listed for her drop to the third round of the draft is her lack of size. At just 5-foot-8, Beck is a bit undersized for a guard in the pro game, most of whom are around six feet or taller.
An honorable mention All-America for the second straight year, Beck averaged 12.5 points and 6.2 assists per game this year. I think she will fit in well with the Storm, who already have a star point guard in Sue Bird, and are led by power forward Lauren Jackson. They also have veteran presence in Swin Cash and former MVPs Sheryl Swoopes and Yolanda Griffith. The Storm won the 2004 WNBA Championship and Cash, Swoopes and Griffith have all won with former teams.
This is a great situation for Beck because she can learn from veteran players who have experience winning, something she is no stranger to. Furthermore, she won’t have the pressure on her immediately because she can be Bird’s back-up and thus will have time to learn the ropes.
But with all the excitement surrounding Beck’s promotion is also disappointment. Classmate Sarah-Jo Lawrence, another one of the stalwarts of GW’s incredibly successful teams of the past four years, did not have her name called at the podium. Lawrence was invited to the WNBA pre-draft camp along with Beck, and was listed by draft analysts as one of the top available guards and a probable selection.
Why she went un-drafted is anyone’s guess with all the science, scouting and strategy teams employ on draft day. But I think the same skills Sarah-Jo employed during her four seasons here at GW could be used to aid many WNBA teams, particularly proven teams looking for an experienced winner and complementary scorer. She averaged more than 13 points a game over the past two seasons while shooting 44 percent from the field. The stats are not the whole story though, as Lawrence has good size to play in the pros and her energy and defensive tenacity could potentially help any team.
Perhaps Lawrence’s greatest strength is her ability to stay focused in tough situations. She hit the shot to send the game to overtime in an eventual win against Texas A&M and was also responsible for sending the Colonials to the Sweet 16 with her buzzer-beater against the University of California. I think most teams would like to have a clutch player like that.
I’d like to finish by offering my congratulations to Beck on beginning her professional career. I encourage everyone to watch when the Storm begin their regular season on May 17, and I’ll be waiting for next year’s draft to hear if GW junior Jessica Adair’s name is called.