Stefanie Dolson might not be focal point of the highlights from UConn's 83-61 win over Duke last night, but her presence in the game was undeniable.
Perfectly receiving the ball in the high post, turning and finding the open player. Beautifully stepping into a 3-point shot as the ball is rotated to her after a defensive breakdown. Setting the screen that frees up the player who ends up scoring.
Of course, playing without much fanfare is not new for Dolson - as Kate Fagan of espnW wrote in her summary of the game, so much of what makes her the key to UConn's national title hopes often goes unnoticed by the average basketball fan.
So that's one thing about Dolson: her court vision. And the thing about having a center who passes like a point guard is that she's usually catching the ball in the heart of the defense, with all angles open. A center who can pass is like having your queen in the middle of the chess board...Dolson finished the game with 14 points and nine rebounds in 38 minutes, numbers similar to her season averages. But because the categories "Baselines Cut Off" and "Screens Called Out" don't exist on a stat sheet, her true effectiveness is hard to quantify. She does not let a defensive possession pass without doing everything possible to keep all of her teammates in the exact right position, and because she usually has her head under the rim -- back to the baseline, eyes forward -- it turns out she's the perfect person for the job.
However, to Dolson's credit, one thing that does show up in the statistics - in addition to the 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, two blocks, and a three she tallied last night, a line that shouldn't require too much mental strain to be impressed by - is amazing efficiency as both a scorer and passer given how much she handles the ball. This is a center who's a 38.2% 3-point shooter in her career, albeit on just 34 attempts in two years, to contribute to a 62% true shooting percentage. As impressive as her assist numbers are compared to other centers, it's more impressive that she creates so many plays for others without turning the ball over often: with 4.2 assists and 2.45 turnovers per game, her pure point rating of 1.02 would make many guards jealous.
It's certainly true that a whole lot of what Dolson does won't be found in the traditional box score statistics, but a large part of what makes her such a strong WNBA prospect is that she does all of those little things and manages to record efficiency numbers that reflect her impact on the game. That's what you want to see from an elite WNBA prospect and, especially among centers in recent years, she's definitely that.
For more on draft prospects, check out our 2014 WNBA Draft storystream.