Ajavon Making Strong Case for Most Improved

One of the real bright spots of the 2011 season has been the play of Mystics guard Matee Ajavon. The fourth-year standout from Rutgers has elevated her game to a new level this season, which has really opened some eyes around the league.

In 2010, Ajavon played an entirely different role for the Mystics as she came off the bench in all 34 games. She averaged 5.9 points in 14.6 minutes per game as a Mystics reserve.

In 2011, her game has taken off as she has started all 19 games thus far and has become one of the league’s top scorers. She averages playing more than 30 minutes per game which has resulted in a massive increase in production. She is now averaging 16.3 points per game which is good for 2nd on the team and 9th in the league.

“Good things come to those who wait,” exclaimed Ajavon.

“When I wasn’t really playing, I was learning, so now that I have the opportunity to play, I’m just making the most of it.”

The rest of the WNBA has also taken notice of Ajavon’s play this year. After the Mystics game vs. San Antonio, Silver Stars head coach Dan Hughes was mightily impressed with the Mystics guard.

“Ajavon absolutely makes a living against us; she’s really a good player. She is not a lengthy guard, but she creates some wonderful basketball for people to enjoy.”

The praise has not only come from opposing coaches, but the players have noticed as well. Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings gave Ajavon a huge nod of respect when she said “Ajavon put the team on her shoulders” following a Mystics game against the Fever.

Atlanta Dream guard Lindsey Harding, who played with Ajavon last season in Washington, gave her former teammate a handful of compliments following the Dream’s dramatic win on Tuesday night.

“She’s just never had her opportunity. She’s worked really hard and she’s been very patient and it says a lot about her for waiting for her turn and waiting for her time. She gets my vote for it because she’s worked extremely hard and she deserves it.”

In that game, Ajavon nearly single handedly carried the Mystics to victory as she scored 17 of her 28 points in the fourth quarter. She was literally unstoppable and twice hit shots to break a tie late in the game. Unfortunately for the team, the Dream also hit some big shots at the end of the game and they went on to win 72-70.

Nevertheless, her teammates and coaches noticed her outstanding play in the fourth quarter.

“She gave us some big baskets and her getting going really gave us that lead,” said Mystics forward Crystal Langhorne.

“Matee is playing very well right now,” stated Mystics head coach Trudi Lacey.

She has certainly made a strong case for the WNBA’s Most Improved Player award, which is an award that has been given out annually since 2000. Both Crystal Langhorne and Kelly Miller have been past recipients of this award and Ajavon is vying to join that company.

The 5’8 combo guard has now eclipsed the 20 point mark six different times this year, including a season-high 32 points last Saturday against New York. She has also been a menace on defense as her 2.00 steals per game is good for fourth in the league.

However, even after this rise to stardom, Ajavon is not convinced that we’ve seen her best.

“I think there is still more to come, and not just for me but for this team as well.”

If this is indeed true, the rest of the WNBA should be on high alert when #22 takes the floor.