by Dan Bell
She's been called the WNBA's most underrated superstar. It sounds funny to call someone a superstar and also say she is underrated. Perhaps under-appreciated or under-publicized is a better fit. Whichever way you slice it, the Lynx' Katie Smith hasn't gotten as much publicity as players like Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Tamika Catchings or Sue Bird. But perhaps that is changing.
Ann Meyers, who is an analyst on the WNBA's ABC and ESPN2 broadcast teams this summer, was effusive in her praise of Smith. "This was a team that surprised a lot of people and made it to the playoffs last season," Meyers wrote in her preseason analysis for 2004. "The main reason was Katie Smith, who is one of the most consistent players in the WNBA. She does it every night, and not just in terms of scoring. She can defend any position, she can rebound, she can handle the ball, and she is stronger than a bull. She would be mentioned in the same breath as Swoopes, Catchings and Leslie as the best players in the world."
This is not news to Lynx fans. Last year, Smith became the first player in women's basketball history to reach the 4,000-point mark — she entered this season with 4,298 points in her professional career. Smith had her best year shooting-wise in 2003 as she set personal bests in field goal percentage (45.5%) and three-point accuracy (39.0%). She was selected to the All-WNBA First Team, her fourth straight all-league honor. But have we seen the best Katie Smith has to offer?
"No. Absolutely not," said Lynx head coach Suzie McConnell Serio. "I expect great things from Katie. She had a great offseason with the national team and has come in with a lot of confidence. I believe she's excited about this team and believes we can be very good."
Katie Smith photo gallery
Smith's WNBA playerfile
May 22: Smith moves into fourth on WNBA scoring charts
2004 Lynx features archive