With her illustrious career at GW in the books, former Colonial basketball player and current GW senior Jess Adair will open a new chapter of her life one way or another Thursday afternoon when her name is (or isn’t) called during the WNBA Draft.
Since her season ended nearly three weeks ago with a first-round loss in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, Adair has trained twice a week with women’s basketball assistant coach Richard Moore, working on her foot speed and ball handling while trying to lose weight to compete at the next level.
“I think I have a lot to work on as far as working on getting my body in the perfect shape,” Adair said. “Watching the WNBA, you see the caliber of player that they have and I know that right now I know that my body isn’t in top, peak shape.”
But beyond simply working out, Adair said she has been largely kept in the dark about her draft status. Since the WNBA cut its annual draft combine this year, the 6-foot-4 center has had few opportunities to showcase her skills to teams.
Dan Hughes, head coach and general manager of the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars, said after watching Adair put up 15 points and 12 rebounds in a comeback win over St. Bonaventure in February that Adair would likely be drafted, although he thought it unlikely that she would go in the first round.
“I think she has a very powerful type of game,” Hughes said of Adair. “She’s shown some real ability to athletically combine some strength and quickness in the post area. But she also, I think, has had a distinguished career. I think she’s done a lot of good things in her career here at GW.”
Adair has been one of the most distinguished GW athletes in recent memory. She was a part of the Colonials’ back-to-back Sweet 16 teams in 2007 and 2008, averaging 13 points in eight NCAA Tournament games. Adair is among the all-time leaders at GW in blocked shots and was an Atlantic 10 first team selection for the past three years.
Even though she has received little word from anyone with the WNBA, Adair has not been without counsel during her transition. Former GW point guard Kimberly Beck, who was drafted last year by the Seattle Storm, has talked to Adair about making the shift to the pro game, as well as what day to day life is like in a professional basketball league. Adair has also been in contact recently with former GW head coach Joe McKeown, who departed after Adair’s junior season for the same job at Northwestern University.
As for the big day Thursday, Adair has opted to stay low-key. She will not travel to New York for the draft, nor will she surround herself with friends and family as she waits for a phone call to tell her where she’ll be playing next year. Instead, Adair said she will watch the draft – which airs on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. – on TV, waiting to see when, or if, her name will be called.
If she is drafted, the end of Adair’s final semester of college will likely be a blur. Preseason camps for WNBA teams will begin before the end of the school year, which will force Adair to miss the end of the semester as she gears up for her first professional games. Beck, who faced a similar issue last year when she was drafted, finished her classes via e-mail and graduated, a plan that Adair said she hopes to duplicate.
With all of the uncertainty surrounding her situation, Adair is understandably anxious to see how everything will play out. A District native, Adair was quick to say her ideal scenario would be to get picked by the Washington Mystics and play in front of friends and family who have followed her career since the first time she picked up a basketball.
“I’m nervous,” she said. “I’ve never been away from home for too long. I’m from DC, I went to a local high school, I went to college in DC and I’ve never really been away for long periods of time . it’ll be new for me, so I guess nerves are expected.”