Q & A with Xavier's Ta'Shia Phillips

Xavier's Ta'Shia Phillips was named the 2010-11 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year
Photo courtesy of Xavier University

If size is expected to go early in the 2011 WNBA Draft, then Ta'Shia Phillips may go sooner rather than later. The 6-foot-6 center out of Xavier has just that. Combine that with a strong defensive mindset and a willingness to learn, and she may very well be a prime target for any team looking to build down the middle.

Phillips chatted with WNBA.com about the upcoming draft at ESPN and how she expects her game to transition from college to the WNBA.

WNBA.com: A few experts and mock drafts have already suggested that size is going to go early in this Draft. At 6-foot-6 Iíd say youíre a perfect fit for that category. Do you expect to go sooner rather than later?

TaíShia Phillips: I havenít really paid attention to those types of things. Iíve tried to stay a normal person for as long as I possibly can (laughs). So Iíve really just been hanging out in my room, not doing too much, but Iíve been told that I will. You never know. Itís kind of like the NCAA. You never know whatís going to happen. You know there are predictions made. Things change, so hopefully the best thing I can possibly get will happen.

WNBA.com: So are you making an extra effort to not pay attention to any of the talk around the Draft?

TP: So many people kind of get caught up in those types of things and they get upset and disappointed when things donít happen as planned or as expected, so I donít want to set myself up for any type of disappointment or anything. Just going in there and hoping for the best.

WNBA.com: Youíre coming off a season where you were named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year and named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team and All-Defensive Team. I guess it goes without saying that defense is your strong suit. Do you feel that will translate well into the WNBA?

TP: Iím hoping so. Iíve always worked extremely hard and itís always been my staple to work as hard as I can for as long as I can and just give my best effort. And I feel like a lot of the times my best effort comes on rebounding and defense, so defense I definitely plan on maintaining that level of intensity hopefully because no one likes to get scored on, but I hate to get scored on. Thatís kind of my driving force.

More: Prospect Q&A

  • Elizabeth Cambage
  • Victoria Dunlap
  • Maya Moore
  • Ta'Shia Phillips
  • Courtney Vandersloot
  • WNBA.com: Think about the WNBA level and all the big names in the league. Youíre going to be playing in the paint with the worldís best basketball players. Players like Lauren Jackson and Tina Charles, just to name a few. I know you said you hate getting scored on, but theyíre pretty good at it.

    TP: They are pretty good at it, but you know whatever you set your mind to you can accomplish. Those are great players. Iíve played against Tina, sheís a great player. Obviously Lauren Jackson is one of the gameís greats, but at the same time itís about effort. If youíre willing to battle with them then Iím sure great results will come. You canít stop them from scoring every time but Iím pretty sure thereís a way to possibly minimize it as much as you possibly can.

    WNBA.com: Any specific areas of your game that you think you need to work on to make the jump to the WNBA?

    TP: A lot of times people are so used to me playing back to the basket and thatís because thatís what I do. I didnít have to stretch myself. Itís not that Iím not able to do it, I guess that now that Iím going to have to use it I should start putting it back to work in workouts and things to make sure Iím ready to be able to do that when the time comes.

    WNBA.com: What kinds of intangibles do you bring to a team?

    TP: Hard work. Effort. I try and be a great teammate as much as possible. Just be whatever the coach needs be to be. Whatever asset that they need me to be. Thatís pretty much what Iím going to try and do. Just mold myself as well as possible.

    WNBA.com: Would you say youíre someone who is open to learning and always improving?

    TP: Always. They say when you stop learning youíre no good to anybody. And thereís no point in being no good because you have the rest of your life to live. I always try and learn because thereís so many different ways to do things. Not everything is going to fit everybody, but if you can adjust it to yourself and make it work for you in a certain way that works for you then youíll be fine. Youíre still learning what they want you to learn and youíre still doing what they want you to do, just the best way it fits to you. As long as you keep growing then you become more helpful. The more you learn, the more you grow, the more you change.

    WNBA.com: Itís been four years since you were the youngest person to walk onto a team. Do you think it will be anything like freshman year?

    TP: No, I mean everythingís a transition. Itís how you make it and how you approach it. Iím going in there with the best mindset possible. Itís just that [I need to] be ready, do what I can, learn what I can and if things donít go that way Iím sure theyíll find a way for me to adjust. Iím sure they will because thatís the mindset I have, just going in and making the best of the opportunity.

    WNBA.com: Do you expect it to be a challenge in training camp to try and crack a teamís 11-player roster?

    TP: It will be. Itíll take extra effort because obviously they already have their expectations set from watching you play and thereís plenty of people that are coming in that want to take the spot that you currently have. So itís going to be a battle. Itís just like coming into college. Youíre going to have to earn your spot and Iím willing to do that. Iím willing to earn my spot.

    WNBA.com: Rookies often talk about how difficult it is in training camp, not necessarily in playing, but sometimes they want to take on a more reserved role or theyíre too timid to speak up because they donít think theyíre allowed to have as big a voice yet. Do you think thatís going to be an issue or are you prepared to kind of step up as a leader?

    TP: Iíve always been more of a lead-by-example type, so thatís pretty much what I plan to stick to. If they need me to be a more vocal leader then Iím willing to take that chance. Just like Coach [Kevin] McGuff wanted me to be a more vocal leader this year and I took on that role. So if thatís what they want me to do than Iím willing to do it.

    WNBA.com: As a player who makes a living in the paint, what kind of WNBA players do you look to in terms of emulating their style of play?

    TP: Iíve never really modeled myself after anyone thatís in the WNBA. Iíve always just kind of tried to play my best and be my best. But Iím a little different because even Lauren Jackson, sheíll step up and sheíll shoot the three. Iíve never really done that but Iíve just always tried to be the best that I can. So being the best post player I guess in that mindset is what I have.

    WNBA.com: When you think of current players in the league, who are you looking forward to defending the most?

    TP: I donít think I have anyone that Iím looking forward to defending the most because theyíre all great. So hopefully Iíll just go out and do the best I can against each and every last one of them. Going against Lauren Jackson, whoís been in the league for forever, thatís an opportunity not many people have and Iím looking forward to it, but also some of the newer players, the younger players, like Tina whoís come in and been successful. Iím looking forward to that too. So just playing anybody in the post. Just being able to have that opportunity to work hard and be the best I can is what Iím looking forward to.