With finals wrapping up and graduation less than a week away, current GW senior and former GW basketball player Jessica Adair finds herself in the same position as many of her fellow seniors: trying to impress someone enough to get a job.
The difference, of course, is that Adair will be trying out, not interviewing for her job. The 6-foot-4 center was drafted 34th overall by the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Draft on April 9, but being drafted does not necessarily guarantee her a place on the roster. Despite being one of the top 39 female college basketball players in the country, Adair, like her classmates, will face a shrinking job market as she vies for a roster spot in a league that cut its roster size to just 11 players per team this offseason.
“I thought it was just, you get drafted, you go, you play,” Adair said of her transition into the world of professional basketball. “I’m realizing that there’s a lot of work I have to put in to be ready to go down there and actually play against these older, more experienced girls.”
Work has been the name of the game for Adair since her season, and her college career, ended with a 97-94 double-overtime loss to Florida Gulf Coast University in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament in March. Since then, Adair has worked out with GW assistant coach Richard Moore, doing drills to improve her agility, ball handling and overall speed and quickness, all of which has left Adair looking noticeably slimmer than she did throughout her GW career.
“I want to go down there and wow them,” Adair said of her preparations for the Mercury’s preseason camp, which begins May 17. “A lot of the things said before I was drafted was that I was out of shape, I was limited to only playing on the block and stuff, but I think within the systems that I’ve played in I haven’t really had a chance to show the other things that I can do, and I’m more than capable of it.”
Even with her workout regimen in place, Adair will face an up-hill battle to make the team. The Mercury currently list five centers on their roster, players that Adair will have to leapfrog in order to earn a spot. Should she fall short, Adair said she will go abroad and play for a year before trying again to earn a spot with the Mercury, who hold her draft rights for two years. Gilberto Garcia, Adair’s agent, has the bulk of his clients playing overseas, although he does represent some WNBA players.
Amid all the training, agents and planning for a professional career, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Adair, even in the midst of a life changing transition, still plans to get her diploma from GW in criminal justice. With preseason camp set to begin the day after commencement, Adair could conceivably walk at graduation and then fly to Phoenix in time for Mercury workouts. Doing so would cost Adair the chance to get in some pre-camp workouts and make an impression on Mercury coaches. Adair said she may pack up and leave campus after her last final on Monday.
If she does choose to go, Adair will leave behind teammates, coaches and friends in the only city she has ever lived in. Still, despite moving over 2,300 miles to a city she’s never been to, Adair is still excited about getting a chance to play at the highest level.
“It’s something I’ve dreamt about since I first picked up a basketball,” Adair said of being drafted. “It was like a dream come true.”