WNBA Draft Capsule: Jayne Appel, Center, Stanford University

Hey folks, with all this emphasis on the NCAA tournament, some life-changing events happen soon after. April 8th looms large on Stanford senior Jayne Appel’s calendar. That is the day of the WNBA draft. She has already taken 21 credits to graduate early, and has moved out of her beloved sorority house with the anticipation of her being drafted and then going right to the national team for training. To fans, she just finished her last game at Maples and still has more basketball left if Stanford goes as deep as predicated in the tournament, but for Jayne, the end of her collegiate career is VERY soon and the next big thing is encroaching fast. 

Why does this concern us here at C and R? Well, besides the fact that C and R, (especially R) will miss the heck out of Jayne, we are interested in where she goes to play pro ball in the WNBA. (Too bad the Sacramento Monarchs, which had the second pick, is no longer an option) 

Quentin McCall of Swish Appeal has been instrumental to building a website dedicated to women’s basketball, and you know how we respect that. At first he concentrated on the WNBA than decided to let the site have a PAC-10 slant. He even invited C and R to publish on the site. Cool. He also has been a big proponent to get bloggers involved in the WNBA to help boost interest in the league. Not only does he want to get fans to go to WNBA games, he wants them to talk about the WNBA games after they have ended. This model has worked well for the NBA. 

Well, the WNBA and the Minnesota Lynx reached out to him. They asked him to help analyze certain players who were predicted to go high in the draft. And they asked him to ask other bloggers/writers/fans who follow these certain players to give their impressions. Now I am not saying the WNBA and the Lynx were going to take these reports as gospel, but they wanted to create interest with the bloggers and the blogger’s fans in the upcoming draft. The WNBA and or the Lynx gave out 5 questions for the bloggers to answer. So Q asked Cal Golden Bears Blog to write about Alexis Gray Lawson and C and R Stanford Blog to write about Jayne Apple. (Jayne is predicted to be picked second by the Lynx) Q took the info and edited. They said they would notify him in advance when they were posting the Appel and Gray-Lawson stuff so he could also write something and they didn't. Oh well, what do you expect from a league that lost the Sacramento Monarchs in the space of a few days? 

Well, here is what C and R wrote about Jayne. (Compare it to what they posted on Jayne). We are giving you the entirety in case you have insomnia or ever have trouble falling asleep at night you can read and be asleep by the second sentence. 

1. Appel has battled some injuries throughout her career at Stanford. How have those affected her development? Where is her health at right now? 

After Jayne’s freshmen year, she injured her shoulder and had surgery on it in the off-season. To stay in shape, she did a lot of running instead of her usual swimming. She never was much of a runner and this extended workout lead to never-before-experienced knee problems. While she has had off-season knee surgery for the past two years (meniscus clean-up sort of stuff, not ACL surgery), it really has not hindered her development as a basketball player, with the notable exception of hindering her points and rebounds her senior year. For example, her points and rebounds per game went up every year, with the exception of this senior year. She seems to be on the mend and in the last two weeks of MArch she has shown signs of the "old" Jayne from last year. As far as her development, see questions two.  

2. It's widely considered that Tina Charles and Jayne Appel are the top two centers in America. What makes Jayne stand out from the rest of the talented posts in women's collegiate game? What makes her special? 

Two things: Her tenaciousness in scoring from down low in the block and her court vision in relation to dishing out assists.

When Jayne is left alone one-on-one down low, she can score on anyone in the country (with the notable exception of…Tina Charles). It’s no accident Jayne played the whole set position on offense in water polo in high school. If you are unfamiliar with that position, she treads water right in front of the opposing teams goal and when thrown the ball tries to score. The defense is instructed to foul her as you have unlimited "small" fouls, so they hang on her arm, neck, and body and try to literally drown her as she is trying to score. She often would have to switch to her left hand, as her right would be held underwater, as well as most of her face. After that, scoring on the basketball court is a lark. Watch replays of her on the court scoring with HER LEFT HAND, and you will see her right hand goes up and swat away the defender as her left hand moves the ball into scoring position. It is a thing of beauty, and not something I see every center do. Players also push and foul her under the basket but she never loses concentration and makes scoring look easy.

She is also special in her ability in handing off the ball for assists. Her assist per game also went up every year from 34 her freshmen year to 108 and 108 her sophomore and junior years. Compare that to Tina Charles consistent yearly average of roughly 40 assists. In Jayne’s first year, teams were just discovering her and when they double-teamed her the next year, she was uncanny in finding the open Stanford player, in particular Candice Wiggins. It’s no wonder that head coach Tara Van Derveer said of Jayne on senior night that she makes those around her better.  

3. What do you is Jayne's biggest strength as she prepares to enter the WNBA? What aspect of her game does she need to work on the most in order to enhance her chances at succeeding in the WNBA? 

Her strengths, as mentioned, are her tenaciousness in scoring and rebounding down low and her passing and ability to hand out assists. Any team would welcome a big presence in the center with the vision to see the open player and the accurate passing skills to match. Jayne’s soph and junior year she played the inside out game with Candice Wiggins to perfection. Jayne is also smart, smart, smart and hustles, which not a lot of centers do.

She does have a weakness in her game and that is the weakness to hit a long jumper or a three. She has attempted just two three-point shots her entire career and made none. Okay, so a three is not everyone’s specialty, but the inability to hit a shot just beyond the foul line is a glaring weakness that should be addressed before the start of the WNBA. It is hard to know if Jayne just does not practice a long jumper as she is best from scoring down low, or if the coaches don’t put her in a position to shoot that shot because she cannot hit it. Either way, she needs to add that weapon to her arsenal. 

4. Where do you see her fitting on a WNBA roster. 5-10 years down the line, is she a perennial All-Star, a nice bench player on a good team or a good, solid WNBA post player that averaged 10-12 points and 6-8 rebounds per game? 

That is a good question, one I have debated with many long time Stanford fans. Rather than looking at points, Jayne’s strengths for a team could be passing or her unselfishness in giving up shots to feed teammates, plus some intangibles like her shot-blocking ability, her smarts and her hustling plays listed in question 5. When it’s all said and done, I think she could be a solid post player.

5. What about Jayne has impressed you the most over her 4 years at Stanford? 

Well, let’s start with her level of fearlessness. Her freshman year, in her first game, a player drove the lane and Jayne blocked the heck out of her and the ball. The ball got swatted to the fifth row, and the player hit the floor. That player did not set a pinkie toe in the lane the rest of the night. That’s intimidation. Jayne’s not afraid to dive for loose balls, and at 6’4", she has a long way to go to get to the floor. I have seen her do many smart things, too, that will not show up in a stat column.With the shot clock winding down for the opposing team, Jayne ran out from the low block to beyond the three-point line to stop a possible last second three-point attempt to get the short clock violation.

Lastly, she is most impressive when she leads on fast breaks. Yes, the 6’4" center leads Stanford fast breaks. Sometimes she gets the rebound first, throws the outlet pass, and beats the other team and her teammates down court for the score. One time, after an opposing team basket, she inbounded the ball from out of bounds, yet beat the opposing team and teammates back to receive the pass and score a lay up! Impressive indeed. Wish we had her for another four years. 

Email C and R to share your favorite Jayne memory and we can post some of them during the dead times between games. Make sure to tell us okay to post and we reserve the right to edit you, just not ourselves!