Goodlett fills the bill

April 16, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- Complacency is not something Sasha Goodlett had to battle during her college career at Georgia Tech.

The Indiana Fever's first-round draft pick reinvented and rebuilt herself with the Yellow Jackets. Through hard work and a dietary discipline light on fried foods and heavy on protein, Goodlett lost more than 40 pounds over four years at Tech. She ran and worked out six days a week. The 6-foot-5 center evolved into one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's strongest and toughest rebounders and scorers.

And the journey isn't over, Goodlett assured Monday after the Fever selected her with the No. 11 pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft.

“Every accolade I've gotten or received, I've had to fight for,” she said in a teleconference with Indiana reporters. “This is just another day in the life. I'm ready and eager to get it started.

“I feel like I have a little ways to go,” added Goodlett, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in helping Tech to a record 26 victories last season. “But I'm very excited and ready to do the same things with the Fever that I did with Georgia Tech.”

And Indiana team officials are delighted to have her. Prior to the draft, they openly proclaimed their desire to land a young post player. And as Indiana Coach Lin Dunn said, the team kept an eye on Goodlett all winter with hopes she might be available.

Indiana seeks to build up its rebounding forces and begin grooming a post player to replace veteran Tammy Sutton-Brown, 34, when she retires. Sutton-Brown and Jessica Davenport have shared the center spot in recent seasons.

The Fever didn't have a second-round pick on Monday -- trading it last year in a deal that brought Erin Phillips to Indianapolis -- but the team continued it quest for rebounding help in the third round. The Fever selected Courtney Hurt, a 6-1 forward from Virginia Commonwealth, at No. 34 overall. This past season, Hurt ranked first in the nation in rebounds per game at 13.1 and ninth in scoring per game at 22.3.

Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever's chief operating officer and general manager, brought up Sophia Young's name as she discussed the drafting of Hurt. Young, who is 6-1 like Hurt, has developed into a WNBA star at San Antonio.

“(Hurt is) a premier rebounder for a player her size,” said Krauskopf. “She's an undersized four (power forward), but there are some others who have made it in our league. She'll have a competitive camp and she's a little bit under the radar, but she's a rebounder and that's what we're after.”

As for Goodlett, she will be making her first trip to Indiana when she arrives to prepare for the start of Fever training camp later this month. Her plan is to get settled and go right to work. A career leader at Tech in scoring (10th, 1,364), rebounding (ninth, 760) and blocked shots (fifth, 127), Goodlett said she will focus on improving her mid-range jump shot.

Krauskopf has no doubts that Goodlett will apply herself immediately.

“Out of all the centers in the draft, she was the one that we really had sort of zoned in on,” Krauskopf said. “She's coming to an experienced team. But she's coming to the right team in terms of our needs. We were looking for somebody to help us fill some short-term time but also protect (the) the long term. It's hard to get size and big post players who have that kind of presence.”

Dunn is eager to start tutoring Goodlett in camp. The Fever coach expects the rookie's physical play to help push Sutton-Brown and Davenport in Indiana's practices.

Dunn also likes Goodlett's southern roots.

“The first thing you have to understand is she is originally from Mississippi,” Dunn, a Tennessee native, said about Goodlett. “So right off the bat, she's going to understand everything I'm saying. She's going to understand my accent. She's a great kid from a great family.”

MaChelle Joseph, who played for Dunn when the latter was coach at Purdue, is the Georgia Tech coach.

“So I know how hard (Goodlett has) had to work,” Dunn said. “Her coach is very demanding. I know we're getting a kid who's been coached at a very high level. And I think you're going to see Sasha be thrilled to death to be here. She's going to be fan-friendly.”