From now until the WNBA draft on April 11, 2011, Swish Appeal will be providing you with information, quotes and audio clips on some of the top prospects. We hope you enjoy them, and they help you prepare for the new crop of WNBA players entering the league this summer!
Senior teammate Italee Lucas made the statement in the title regarding the return this season of North Carolina Forward/Center Jessica Breland. Breland is more than just a student-athlete, she's a role model to many. With the Jessica Breland Comeback Kids Fund and her strong game on the court, whoever chooses to draft Jessica Breland will be getting a player with a strong upside, and a person with even stronger character.
A 6'3 post, Jessica Breland returned to the court this season after missing the entire prior year with Hodgkin's lymphoma. It took a while to get her stamina back, and, at the end of the year, it was still an issue, but her game improved all year, culminating in an ACC tournament performance where she averaged 19.5 points and 6.8 rebounds as UNC went to the finals before falling. Her junior season (2008-09), she had averaged 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks. A team drafting Jessica will be looking for a return to that form, but will need patience.
STATISTICAL STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
- Started 28 of 34 games in her return after the year's absence, and averaged 12.4 points & 7.1 rebounds
- Only averaged 23 minutes per game putting up those numbers, so there is more upside there
- Improved her scoring in post-season, especially scoring 28 pts & 10 rebounds vs. Miami in ACC tourney semi-finals, and adding 27 vs. Duke in the finals
- Struggled in NCAA tourney, especially vs Stanford in Sweet 16 of NCAA tournament, shooting only 1-13
- Enjoys the defensive end of the court, as her blocks & rebounds indicate, and can impact a game from that end when the offense isn't working
STRAIGHT FROM THE PLAYER'S MOUTH
"Before, I was just playing, Now, I'm PLAYING. I didn't use to have that drive. Now, I've found a new gear.""
"Just having the opportunity to be playing basketball again is a blessing, being back with my teammates makes it so much easier."
WHAT THE COACHES SAY
Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina's Hall of Fame Head Coach has been through the highs and the lows with Jessica Breland. She has seen her excel on the court, and has seen her go through chemotherapy. She has also seen the amount of time and energy Breland puts into her on court work, her charity work, and her school work.
Brenda Frese, Maryland's Head Coach has coached against Jessica in the ACC. Maryland and UNC have gone head to head many times over Breland's career, and Coach Frese has had to face Jessica many times. I talked to her about Jessica.
FROM ELSEWHERE ON THE 'NET
Rebounds & Rhinestones: Jessica Breland's Return