WNBA Prospect Watch: Year of the PG
Three stars ready to change the 1.
WNBA Prospect Watch provides readers with a heads up on the nation’s top collegiate players. This installment focuses on three sophomore point guards who have stood out as the nation’s top floor generals in their class.
by Brandon Clay / @peachstatehoops
Odyssey Sims and Bria Hartley faced off on Sims’ home floor in December as Baylor won 66-61 over Connecticut. Hartley didn’t lick her wounds, rebounding with a solid performance on the road, as she helped Connecticut to a win over Chelsea Gray’s Duke team 61-45 on January 30.
Here is an in-depth look at all three:
Chelsea Gray, 5-10, PG, Duke
Strengths: Assist-to-turnover ratio, long range shooting, free-throw percentage, supreme floor vision
Areas To Improve: Field goal percentage
Evaluation: Gray is a special passer. She’s a bigger guard with an innate ability to hit the open player. Her 1.8-1 assist-to-turnover is an indicator of that. So is the fact that four other Blue Devils besides Gray average double figures. Her efficiency from beyond the three-point line is impressive as she is hitting at a 41 percent clip so far. The numbers match our evaluation from her as prep but now she’s doing it nightly versus the nation’s best for a roster that lacks a signature wing scorer. In late-game situations, the California native can keep the ball in her hands because she is shooting a cool 84 percent from the free-throw line. If she can get her field-goal percentage up into the high-40s (currently at 43 percent), she’ll be able to make a strong case as a possible top-five selection in the 2014 WNBA Draft.
Key Game Remaining: February 24 vs Miami – Gray will be asked to help Duke contain two potential WNBA first-round picks this spring in Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams in a battle for ACC supremacy.
Bria Hartley, 5-8, PG, Connecticut
Strengths: Consistency, field goal percentage
Areas To Improve: Three-point percentage
Evaluation: Hartley was charged with the task of leading the nation’s most successful program over the past decade into the post-Maya Moore era. The steady point guard from New York has done just that starting every game to date while averaging 33 minutes a contest. She’s contributed offensively with 14 points per and a stellar 49 percent from the field. All the while keeping her teammates involved with a solid 1.5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Her three-point percentage is an area for off-season work as she’s at 34 percent right now. The Huskies will need her to make open looks down the stretch if they want to make it to the Final Four in Denver.
Key Game Remaining: February 27 vs Notre Dame – Hartley will go head-to-head with junior class point guard Skylar Diggins in the last regular-season game for the Huskies.
Odyssey Sims, 5-7, PG, Baylor
Strengths: Overall shooting percentage (three-point and free throw), on ball defender
Areas To Improve: Pull-up game
Evaluation: Sims’ play this season has been one for the books. Sure she plays alongside Brittney Griner, the probable No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, but Sims is a main cog on a Bears team that is 27-0 to start the season. The Lone Star State general has started 25 of those and is averaging almost 15 points a night. A left-handed guard, Sims is shooting the ball well with 40 percent from the three-point line and 83 percent from the charity stripe. Her quick hands have helped her on the defensive end posting 3.3 steals a game, a number that has her ranked 11th nationally.
Key Game Remaining: February 27 at Texas A&M – Sims will see a multitude of A&M guards which is never easy to deal with especially with the game on the road in College Station.