Don’t Sleep on Tyra Grant
The Penn State phenom is ready for the WNBA.
by Ben York / @bjyork
There are some big names in the 2010 WNBA Draft; Tina Charles, Jayne Appel, Monica Wright, and Epiphanny Prince to list a few. Many of these young women made a huge impact in college or overseas and are household names to WNBA fans and followers.
However, there is one name you might not be as familiar with who is poised to make an immediate impact on a WNBA team—Tyra Grant of Penn State.
Before being one of only three Lady Lions with 2,000 or more points, Grant had a sensational high school career at Youngstown Ursuline in Ohio. Grant holds 10 records including 2,292 points during her time there. During her senior year, Grant averaged an astonishing 30.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
Heavily recruited, Grant decided to attend Penn State and wasted no time making her presence felt. As a freshman, she led the Lady Lions in scoring and immediately drew comparisons to Penn State legend, Kelly Mazzante (the all-time school leader in total points). The trend would continue throughout Grant’s time at Penn State leading the team in scoring all four years en route to the 2,000-point plateau.
“We experienced a lot of adversity and challenges during my time there,” Grant said of Penn State in reference to the controversial coaching change. “But we were able to get back on track and have a good winning season my senior year. It’s kind of bitter-sweet finishing my college career but I’m focused on playing in the WNBA now.”
Grant recalls a special time in her life recently when WNBA legend, Yolanda Griffith, sought her out and gave her some lasting advice on having a lengthy career in the league. Grant said Griffith admired her passion and talent for the game and has even offered to help train her after the draft in Sacramento; something Grant is ecstatic about.
“I hope she [Griffith] will be able to mentor me after the draft,” Grant said. “She gave me some really good advice about having a long career in the WNBA. She saw something in me and admired my passion for bettering myself. She told me it isn’t about where you get drafted, the first, second, or third round but it is more about working hard and dedicating yourself in terms of longevity. When you get to training camp, be ready.”
Grant mentioned another WNBA legend that she looks up to both on and off the court—Tamika Catchings. Grant feels that Catchings represents everything she wants to be as a player and as a woman. Similar to Catchings, she shares an affinity for helping others and improving their communities. In both high school and college, Grant spent time volunteering at food banks, soup kitchens, and elderly homes.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support I received as a child,” Grant said of her philanthropy. “I want to help kids come to the realization they can attain their dreams. Coach [Coquese] Washington compared me to Tamika [Catchings] as both a player and a person. That is who I want to model my career after. Not only is she a great player but she is an equally amazing woman.”
The off-court aspirations will never go away, but Grant is solely focused on getting ready for the WNBA Draft. She is routinely named as one of the top 5 shooting guard prospects by WNBA scouts, and for good reason. As a player, Grant has an uncanny ability to get to the rim at all costs. In the WNBA, she’ll draw a lot of fouls and cause the defense to pay close attention to her with her scoring prowess. She handles the ball well and is versatile enough to play multiple positions on the court and can score the ball in numerous ways. It doesn’t hurt that she was blessed with a strong figure that will help her both in the paint and defending bigger players. A hustler on both ends of the floor, it wouldn’t be surprising if Grant actually was a better WNBA player than a college player. Her physicality, fantastic work ethic, and tough attitude will translate seamlessly into the WNBA game.
Ultimately, the moment of truth for Grant will come on April 8th. She isn’t sure where she’ll be drafted or in what round, but she maintains a positive attitude and mentality that wherever she ends up, she will make the best of it.
“I’ve been through a lot of adversity in my life,” Grant said. “But I’ve been able to overcome all of that and produce during turmoil. I can perform under pressure and I’m determined to be successful on and off the court.”
Simply put, Grant has the character, mental fortitude, and basketball ability it takes to have a successful career in the WNBA. The only question is; which team will be lucky enough to pick her?