At the beginning of the 2009-10 season, University of Washington coach Tia Jackson said that she believed guard Sami Whitcomb could play in the WNBA.
After going undrafted, the Chicago Sky have given her that opportunity. From the UW release:
After going undrafted in the 2010 WNBA Draft, the Chicago Sky have extended an invite to Whitcomb, making her the first Jackson player to receive an invite to a WNBA team.
Whitcomb is the first player during Coach Tia Jackson's three-year history at UW to receive an invitation to a WNBA training camp.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity," Whitcomb said. "This has been a dream and a goal of mine ever since I began playing basketball. I just want to thank Coach (Steve) Key for giving me this opportunity and to Coach Jackson for helping to develop my game."
Whitcomb was unquestionably Washington's leader on the floor this season, but wasn't on the radar statistically as a strong WNBA prospect. Nevertheless, there are some strengths that she might offer a WNBA team.
Although the 5'10" Whitcomb shot only 39.7% from the field, her nearly 36% three point shooting and 43.35% free throw rate actually made her a rather efficient scorer, especially in Pac-10 conference play during which she had a true shooting percentage of 54.61%. Also to Whitcomb's credit is that she was a rather strong rebounder for her size finishing the season average 5.6 rebounds per game. She also began the season saying that she had been working on her ball skills -- dribbling and passing -- and it showed probably better than the statistics reflect: she sees the floor very well and was quite adept at hitting gaps in the defense and creating scoring opportunities for others.
Yet despite her improved ball handling ability, that might be the primary area of improvement heading into the WNBA. She finished the season with nine more assists than turnovers and had a 17.6% turnover percentage in conference play. While that can be a good sign for some college athletes -- depending on what else they do, a sign of aggression -- the fact that Whitcomb had a usage rate of 19.41% against Pac-10 competition might be cause for concern. However, perhaps as a sign of increased confidence in her ball skills, a number of her turnovers came on plays in which she recognized the open player and tried to squeeze the ball into a lane that was a tad too tight.
What might ultimately determine Whitcomb's fate -- and her intended role in camp -- is that Chicago already has a full rotation of guards and an increasing need for frontcourt players, especially with forward Shyra Ely's season-ending injury. With many WNBA players returning from overseas, Whitcomb may be helpful to the Sky in running camp, but her chances of making the final roster seem slim.