Eshe Excited to Work With Donovan
Long before the start of today's WNBA Draft, Florida forward Dalila Eshe had an idea she might be headed to the Seattle Storm. The Storm coaching staff was in contact with the Gators coaches - including Head Coach Carolyn Peck, who spent three seasons in the WNBA as head coach of the Orlando Miracle, and Shell Dailey, who had two stints as interim coach in San Antonio - to learn more about Eshe (pronounced esh-SHAY), and her coaches passed along Seattle as a possible destination.
"I've actually watched game film of Seattle from previous years already this year, because they thought that might be a high possibility," Eshe said Wednesday after the Storm selected her with the 25th overall pick in the second round.
Eshe liked what she saw, and is also excited about the opportunity to work with Storm Coach Anne Donovan.
The positive feelings are mutual. Donovan shared that, during one point of the college season, the Storm was looking at Eshe as a possibility with the team's first-round pick, number 11 overall. Later, small forward became a larger area of need for the Storm and it become clear that Eshe would likely be available in the second round, which she ultimately was.
"Eshe is somebody that our staff followed closely, has great ability as a versatile post player and I think is really going to compete hard for a roster spot," said Donovan.
"She came in way under the radar screen for three years, then this last year at Florida really stepped out into a different role and shone for them, which was one reason why Florida had such a great season."
Eshe entered her senior season with career averages of just 4.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, having started but 12 games in three years. But she made tremendous strides during her senior season, earning All-SEC First Team honors and averaging 14.2 points and 7.1 rebounds.
"I put in a lot more extra work this summer coming into my senior year, just because this was it," Eshe explained. "This was my senior year. I've wanted to play in the WNBA since ninth grade, so I felt one of my dreams was slipping away from me."
Eshe also worked hard to broaden out her game, something she believed was crucial to her success in the SEC.
"I felt like I was kind of an undersized post player in the SEC, so I needed to offer some different strengths than I had been able to in high school or AAU," Eshe said. "At 6-3, I'm big, but in the SEC I'm playing against 6-6 night in and night out. I had to expand my game and ballhandling, be able to get up and down the court past these 6-6 players and step out and shoot the 3. I think that improved me a lot this year."
After missing all 13 3-pointers she tried during the first three seasons of her career at Florida, Eshe made 20 at a 38.5% clip as a senior. She also shot 85.2% from the free-throw line, way up from her previous career high of 75.5%.
The versatility will be particularly important for Eshe in the WNBA.
"Eshe is a post player that's got good range," said Donovan. "We're going to have to see her translate that into the WNBA, to be able to keep her defenders on her at the high post, be able to put the ball on the floor a little bit and then rebound."