Katie Smith Heads to Washington
The WNBA’s 3rd all-time leading scorer signs with the Mystics.
by Ben York / @bjyork
Washington Mystics Vice President and General Manager Angela Taylor announced today that three-time Olympian and perennial all-star guard, Katie Smith has signed with the team.
“This is a very exciting day for the Washington Mystics organization. Katie Smith is the most prolific scorer in U.S. professional women’s basketball history and will bring invaluable experience and competitiveness to our roster,” stated Taylor. “She has been a huge success everywhere she’s been and as we look to make our vision of bringing a WNBA Championship to Washington, DC a reality. We are ecstatic that someone with Katie’s pedigree is looking forward to being part of our championship journey.”
Smith joins all-star Alana Beard, Lindsey Harding, and Crystal Langhorne to showcase suddenly one of the deepest teams in the WNBA. Smith brings another viable scoring option to the Mystics (they were 9th in the WNBA in total points in 2009), an increased defensive presence, and perhaps more important than anything, stability.
The Mystics finished 4th in the Eastern Conference in 2009 with a 16-18 record and lost to the Indiana Fever in the first round of the playoffs. Smith’s addition to the Mystics roster combats the rising Atlanta Dream (who just signed Erika de Souza to a two year contract), the much-improved Connecticut Sun, and the Indiana Fever who are favored to repeat as Eastern Conference Champions.
An 11-year WNBA veteran, Smith started her professional basketball career in 1997 with the Columbus Quest of the American Basketball League (ABL). She helped lead her team to an ABL Championship in 1998. In two seasons, she made consecutive all-star appearances and in 1998 she was named to the All-ABL First Team. Smith joined the WNBA in 1999 when she was assigned to the Minnesota Lynx. During her time with the Lynx, Smith set numerous scoring records such as the then WNBA single-season records for scoring average (23.1) and points (739), and three-point field goal attempts (240). In 2002, she led the Lynx in minutes played, field goals (162) and field goal attempts (401). Smith and the Lynx earned a post season berth in 2003 before losing to eventual WNBA Champions, Los Angeles Sparks. Smith has the distinction of setting a WNBA record for total regular season games played (36) when she was traded from the Minnesota Lynx (23) to the Detroit Shock (13) in 2005.
As a guard with Detroit, Smith set a Shock franchise record for most three-point field goals made (55) and attempted (155) in a season. She helped Detroit earn a second WNBA Championship by leading the team during the playoffs in assists (40), three pointers made (20) and three pointers attempted (50) and finishing second on the team in scoring (14.7). In 2007, Smith became the first woman to score 6,000 points in professional basketball. She currently is the all-time leading scorer in American women’s professional basketball history with 6,879. In 2008, the Shock earned another WNBA Championship with Smith leading the way with 21.7 points per game during the Finals series. She was named the 2008 Finals MVP. In a career that spans over a decade, Smith averages include 15.7 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and 2.8 assists per game.
“I knew all along that I wanted to play again,” Smith said in a conference call. “The things that attracted me to Washington were not only the coaching staff and the players, but how they go about doing business. They have a ton of talent, are unselfish, play hard, and being close to home is obviously a plus.”
Smith has played against fellow all-star Alana Beard for a number of years, and couldn’t be happier to finally have her as a teammate.
“I’m excited,” Smith said about teaming up with Beard. “She is so talented and I’ve always respected what she does on the court. It will be fun. Now I don’t have to worry about guarding her and she doesn’t have to worry about guarding me. There is a mutual appreciation we have and I’m excited to learn more about her as a player and a person. I’m really looking forward to training camp because that’s where I really think we’ll build trust and solidify our team.”
Smith also stated she is feeling no discomfort in her back, which should be a relief to Mystics fans everywhere. So far, there haven’t been any setbacks and Smith is feeling as good as she ever has heading into the 2010 season.
A three time Olympian, Smith was a member of three USA Basketball Women’s National teams that captured gold medals in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She was named the USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year in 2008. A graduate of the Ohio State University, Smith was the 1996 Big Ten Player of the Year.
“I am really excited to be joining the Washington Mystics who are hungry for a championship. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the ownership group, coaches and staff and I feel that the transition will be a smooth one,” said Smith. “I also look forward to playing in front of some of the best fans of the WNBA.”
It undoubtedly seems like a perfect fit not just for the Mystics, but also for Katie Smith. The Ohio State graduate now gets to play under fellow alum and Mystics head coach, Julie Plank.
“Having a Buckeye as a head coach certainly doesn’t hurt things,” Smith joked.