Kayla McBride probably deserves even more attention for her role in Notre Dame's impressive 86-70 win at Tennessee last night.
McBride did a little bit of everything for the Fighting Irish, finishing with 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. What doesn't show up in the boxscore is that it was McBride also spent significant time as the team's lead ball handler and Jeff Kirik of GoErie.com noted that most of her assists came in the second half when their offense started to really heat up. Those seven assists tied a career-high (last vs. Duke on 4/2/13)
Overall, the circumstances of last night's game (as outlined by Al Lesar of the South Bend Tribune) make McBride's performance even more impressive and add some weight to comments that Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw made after the Irish routed Pitt on the road, as reported by Tom Reisenweber of GoErie.com.
McBride kept facilitating the Notre Dame offense in the first 8 minutes of the second half before McGraw went to her bench for the rest of the game.
"Kayla wants to be good, not only as a scorer but she wants to be a good rebounder, and she wants to be a good defender and get assists and steals," McGraw said. "It's great to see a player that doesn't relax after scoring 20 points in a game. She comes in the next day and wants to keep working hard."
And this isn't just a recent hot streak - the 5-foot-11 McBride is having an outstanding season after struggling a bit early on.
You'll recall that a pretty solid target for WNBA wing prospects is to shoot above 45%-47% from 2-point range; McBride is currently has a 2-point percentage of 49.2% and a 3-point percentage of 47.5%. Her overall numbers are pulled down a bit by the non-conference games in which she shot more than 15 shots. And yet, even in those cases, she often turned her attention to the boards to contribute when she wasn't an inefficient scorer.
Her numbers as a distributor don't necessarily suggest she'll be a top candidate as a WNBA ball handler, but her ability to affect the college game in so many ways at her size makes her as strong a wing prospect as anyone in the draft.
For more on draft prospects, check out our 2014 WNBA Draft storystream.