At 6-6, Ketucky center Sarah Elliott offers WNBA teams a big body that can give opponents problems down low. She's already shown that she can score, rebound and protect the rim in arguably the toughest conference in the country -- the SEC -- and now she's ready to prove that she can do it at the next level.
But as we at WNBA.com discovered, Elliott's size pales in comparison to her larger-than-life personality, her passion for the game, her family and her heart.
Q: What have you been doing and working on since the end of your team’s season?
ELLIOTT: “I graduated early, so school’s not really a big priority now. I finished and it was a very big thing for me. But since ball has ended, I just want to focus on what I want to do next because my life up until this point has been so structured. All of the sudden it is my decision, I’m just like, ‘Well, I have this, this, and this.’ I feel like I’m about to almost fall apart at the seams. I’m just trying to keep my cool and do the little things that I’ve always wanted to try. Playing for the league was always one of my dreams. Hey, if I don’t make it, at least I tried. That’s all I want.”
Q: What memories do you have about your college hoops experience? What will you remember most?
ELLIOTT: “Oh my goodness. My sophomore year we beat Tennessee, the No. 1 team in the nation at the moment and we were not even ranked. I don’t even know if the rankings were in our sights. But we beat them on our home court at Rupp Arena by three points. Oh, it was the most amazing… the end of the game… and the entire time…I mean, I stole the ball! They threw a long pass and I happened to jump up in the air and grab it. That was the one part right there.”
Q: What strengths, qualities or skills will you bring or add to a WNBA team?
ELLIOTT: “First of all, I’m a very personable person. I love to get to know people. I like to get to know the fans. I feel like I can really help out in the community. And on the court I’m very coachable. I go out there and I just do what I can when you want me and won’t complain. If you don’t want me at this moment, it’s your decision. I feel like I’m a very coachable person and can take my role as is.”
Q: What skills do you feel you need to improve or work on at the next level?
ELLIOTT: “Probably just being more aggressive, wanting to score. I’m not saying I lack scoring. I mean, I can put up my points and I’m not afraid to give that ball to that person who has the hot hand. I’m just saying that when I’m in there, I just have to go at it a little harder.”
Q: What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges/adjustments at the next level?
ELLIOTT: “Probably being more independent as a person because you won’t have that compact environment that they give to you, that structure. I’m not questioning whether I can make it on my own. It’s just getting used to it and being on my own, and not to be so overwhelmed by a three-month league. Try to take it one day at a time.”
Q: Did you have a favorite team growing up?
ELLIOTT: “I did. The Orlando Miracle, when they were in Florida. That was the first WNBA game I ever saw. We were playing AAU in Orlando and our coach was like, ‘Yeah, we bought everybody tickets.’ Granted, they were the nosebleeds at the very top near the ceiling, but I was there and I had the most exciting time then. That was my most favorite team and was probably when I realized I want to do this! And that’s why it will always be my favorite team.”
Q: Are there any specific teams you would like to play for?
ELLIOTT: “At this moment, I don’t want to say. Yeah, there is a team I would want to play for, but right now I’m willing to play for anybody. I’m just excited to be here. I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth (laughs).”
Q: Is there a current WNBA player you model your game after, or that you look up to?
ELLIOTT: “Ruth Riley. I really, really look up to her. My freshman year, my coach showed me a couple of her games and I was really impressed. I feel like I’m a similar player. I’ve watched her develop a lot. I was like, ‘If I could do something like that, that would be amazing.’ After my freshman year of college, it was like ‘Wow, I could do this.’ It was really pretty amazing.”
Q: What WNBA players are you most looking forward to playing against or meeting?
ELLIOTT: “Riley (laughs). She’s probably going to kick my butt the first time we meet, probably just because I’ll be in awe. But I’d really like to learn a lot from her. That would be the No. 1 person for me.”
Q: Who are some of your all-time dream teammates that you’d want to play with?
ELLIOTT: “Out of my class, I would definitely want to play with Sylvia Fowles. I love her game and she’s a great person. Granted, we’re at the same position, but I feel she’s an awesome player and we’d feed off of each other.
“Out of the league, I’d really like to play with Kara Lawson. She’s just an awesome player all the way around. I watched her at Tennessee. I met her a couple times. She’s just a great person to meet and to know and to watch on the court.”
Q: Out of all the prospects for this draft, who’s the best player you played against?
ELLIOTT: “Sylvia Fowles (laughs). Guarding her personally, I know I cannot stop her. She’s just so dominant, but I’ve always done my best to contain her and I feel like I’ve done it. I’m very proud about doing that. But she’s just a dominant player and you just have to give that girl props (laughs). There’s no doubt about it.”
Q: How about players you haven’t played against, but that you’ve seen?
ELLIOTT: “Oh what’s the girl’s name? I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t know many people outside the SEC. I really don’t. That’s how I know Fowles and Tasha Humphrey. She’s killer too. Nicky Anosike. I don’t even know if she… well, she won’t be here because she’s in the Final Four. I don’t know… I’m delusional right now. That’s all I’ve got to say. So other than that I really could not name you anybody from this year. I could name you people from last year: it would be Allison Bales and the Ohio State player I played against…”
Q: Jessica Davenport?
ELLIOTT: “Yes, Davenport. Thank you. I had it on the top of my tongue. Excuse me. I’m a little jittery.”
Q: What are your plans for draft day?
ELLIOTT: “Actually, my family is getting together at my house. I have a really big family and we’re going to fit everybody in the house. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first cousin, second cousin… you’re my family and you’re coming (laughs). So pretty much the state of Kentucky is going to be there at my place. I’m really excited (laughs).”
Q: What’s your favorite way to relax off the court?
ELLIOTT: “Sleep (laughs). If I ever get a free moment – it if doesn’t involve school or a social event for whatever reason – I’m asleep. I might take a nap somewhere. If I’m in the classroom building before class starts and I have an hour, I just take a nap.”
Q: Do you have a career path that you’d like to follow after basketball?
ELLIOTT: “I have a couple ideas that I want to do. I’m going to get married. I’m engaged. I’ve been engaged since Christmas. My boyfriend of two years popped the question to me. It was really exciting.”
Q: Do you have a date set?
ELLIOTT: “No, no date. We want to save money and do a couple things first, like me playing ball for a couple years. We want to do some premarital counseling stuff. So we’re going to do all that and then we’ll start planning. That’s a long ways off, but we’re fine with it.”
“Then after that I want to go to grad school and maybe go into higher education, and be a mentor or an advisor for student athletes first coming into college and help with the transition. It was really rough my freshman year and I’d really like to be that kind of outlet for college athletes.”
Q: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
ELLIOTT: “Give it your all because you’ve got nothing to lose. That’s probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard come out of someone’s mouth towards me (laughs).”
Q: What is your favorite book?
ELLIOTT: “OK, I’m the biggest dork. I love to read. And so I love the Harry Potter series. I’ve read all the books several times (laughs). I’m currently reading a series by Garth Nix and I really enjoy his books too.”
Q: What is your favorite movie?
ELLIOTT: “Oh dear Jesus. I want to say I’m a Harry Potter fan all over again. But my very, very favorite movie – it’s very dorky of me – it’s called Labrynth by Jim Henson. Love it! I have that movie memorized. You play it, I’ll sit here and do it word for word for ya.”
Q: What is your favorite album?
ELLIOTT: “I haven’t really listened to a whole album in a really long time. My all-time favorite music would be classical. If I’m in a kind of crummy mood, or have too much stress in my life, I like listening to that. One of my favorite artists is Taylor Swift. I really like her. I like country. And then I also really like Mary J. Blige.”
Q: What is your favorite TV show?
ELLIOTT: “House. I love House. I can’t get enough of it. His dry sense of sarcastic humor just cracks me up.”
Q: What luxury item can you not live without?
ELLIOTT: “Besides my cellphone (laughs)? Well, besides my cellphones -- which should just be a body part on humans – I would have to say my little iPod that has my movies and my music on it and picks up radio stations on it. I can’t go on an airplane ride anywhere without it. I was watching a movie on a plane this morning (laughs).”
Q: Do fashion and style play big roles in your life?
ELLIOTT: “I am an athlete. I probably wear sweats way too much. But if I had to dress up for something, I really like to try with the nice dress slacks. I like to bring out the heels just to scare people (laughs). People say, ‘You’re already tall, why do you need a few more inches?’ You just got to break it out sometimes.”
Q: Do you have any favorite designers or brands?
ELLIOTT: “I love Buckle jeans, just because they make them long enough for me (laughs). When they first came out with extra long, I was in eighth grade I was already 6-3. And they were girls' jeans, so they weren’t saggy and baggy. I was really excited. Granted, they were still a little too short, but I didn’t have to wear men’s jeans anymore.”
Q: Where are you from? Tell us about your hometown.
ELLIOTT: “Uh, y’all are not going to like me. I’m from a very small town I am a very small-town gal. My entire county only had one stop light. Not the town! There were five other towns that we had in the county, and we only had one stop light. There was no way you could miss it. You would take every back road and come to the stop light. It was McKee, Kentucky.
“I love the mountains. I love the outdoors. There are some things I won’t deal with, like snakes, lizards and fish, but I love animals. If it were up to me I’d have a big ol’ farm with about 50 different animals. I’ve already got two cats and my roommate has a dog.”
Q: What’s you best on-court moment?
ELLIOTT: “It was my sophomore year and we were playing in the Pepperdine tournament. I had the worst first half I had ever had in my college career. I came out in the second half – I don’t what happened -- and I nailed 18 points in the second half. And I got MVP of that tournament. So that was one of my best turnaround moments. Sorry about the first half, y’all.”
Q: Do you have any pregame rituals?
ELLIOTT: “I do. I pray first. It's one thing I’ve never gone without in my college career. I have the letter 'J' on my ankle. My best friend died my freshman year, first semester and I’ve always worn the 'J.' Her name was Joelle Lawson. I just always wear the 'J' on my ankle bracelet and I will never go without it as long as I play ball.”
Q: Is that also your source of inspiration?
ELLIOTT: “Yeah, it really has been. I dedicated the rest of my freshman year to her. I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m going to let her go.’”