2012 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: Draft Prospects

Participants


Tiffany Hayes
Guard, Connecticut

Nnemkadi Ogwumike
Forward, Stanford

Devereaux Peters
Forward, Notre Dame

Samantha Prahalis
Guard, Ohio State

Question and Answer Session

Q. Nneka, the speculation is you could go No. 1, if you could talk about what that would mean for you and how would you be able to fill full those expectations in Los Angeles?

NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: I think it would mean a lot. This past year was great, my senior year. We had a lot of success and even though it didn't end how we wanted it to, I was just really proud of me and my teammates, and we go now to the next step.

I'm really excited. At this point I'm just really excited for the opportunity, and I will go wherever, you know, I am selected to go. I'm looking forward to Monday.


Q. Samantha and Devereaux, we see you guys, but what do you think is your biggest asset that you bring to the league?

DEVEREAUX PETERS: I think my first asset is just being able to guard multiple positions and being a force on the defense; with my length I could help wherever I end up going.

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: And I think just my ability to pass the ball. I think there are so many good players in the league that I would be able to set whoever up and just fit into a team right away. Just for that fact of being able to pass and making other people hit shots where they are comfortable at.


Q. Nneka, if you do end up in Los Angeles, which what the speculation is, there's a lot of post players there. Are you looking forward to the chance to play with as many experienced posts as are there? And for Samantha, the coaches were on earlier talking about how important it is for players to be able to adjust to different roles once you step up and you're playing with players of all different ages, and you are not always going to play as much as you did when you were in college. Can you just talk about preparation for that adjustment?

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Well, yes, I think wherever I go, it's going to be different. Coach talked about that, (Ohio State) Coach (Jim) Foster, and I just want to do whatever they want me to do, I'll be able to do.

You know, I think I'm mature and I think I'm ready to go in and play a lot of minutes and do that. And if I have to go in and wait my turn and learn from the experience, I can do that, as well.

NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: You know, assuming that that happens and I end up in L.A., I think I'm looking forward to playing with a lot of experienced posts. I think it will be a learning process. I can still elevate my game at this point, but I think it will be good to see what I can learn from people that have played at the highest college level and also played at the highest level at this point. And I look forward to seeing what I can learn from veterans of the game.


Q. Tiffany, you've watched so many of your teammates head into the WNBA as high draft picks, and now your turn has come along. I'm wondering how well prepared you think you are for it, and how you think your college career will translate in the eyes of the general managers that may select you.

TIFFANY HAYES: I think I'm pretty prepared just because of the competition that we played against here in college every year. Plus playing with a lot of great players here before, like tinea, like Renee (Montgomery), like Kalana Green.

So I think my transition is going to be a pretty good one, and playing here is definitely going to help me out a lot. Like I said, it's taught me a lot, to learning from the players to learning from the coaches.


Q. And as many of the coaches have already mentioned, making a roster in this league is becoming really increasingly difficult as the years progress and a lot of teams are pretty much set going into this draft. Does that prospect stimulate you competitively or is it intimidating?

NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: I mean, I think at this point, a lot of expectations given the seasons you've had thus far. But I would say it's not necessarily really that intimidating. It is kind of what you make it.

But you know, I think especially with the girls that are on the phone now and everyone else that's going to be there on Monday, you don't just get here by chance, and people have put in a lot of work to get to this point. And so you have to put in more work to advance to where you want to be when entering this next level.

TIFFANY HAYES: Pretty much what she said. It's how you look at it. I don't think like she said, a lot of intimidation going on. I just think you can learn a lot from the people around you, and for me, I would just be glad to be around people like that because you can learn from them.


Q. Can you talk a little bit about just what you've done this past week to prepare for the draft, perhaps the mind set going in, and also the fact that you played in the summer games, you had a very long season; is that enough to sufficiently erase any doubts about the knees?

DEVEREAUX PETERS: Well, for this past week, I've still been working out with our strength coach and trying to be in condition. I took a couple of days off after the last game.

So I mean, I've been doing the same thing that I've been doing throughout. It has not really changed much. I think they do a good job here having you prepare. Just the same thing I've been doing the past couple of years.

And I don't think my knees are that much of an issue. I think that's in the past. I haven't had any problems with them in the past couple years. I haven't had to sit out of practice in games because of my knees.

I don't think that that's much of an issue anymore. I think people bring it up because of all that I have been through and I have not had any real issues with my knees since then. I think it's something that's in the past for now.


Q. In the days coming up to the draft, what are your an anticipations and what are you doing to calm yourselves down as you wait for your name to be called?

NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: It's exciting. It's definitely not college anymore. Personally for me, I've been calming myself down by shopping. I don't know what anyone else has been doing. I think it's more exciting than nerve wracking at this point.

I think when you get selected to a team, the least that we have to be worried about is our skills on the court and obviously we are conditioning; we are working out. I think just basking in this moment is more important than really fearing what your expectations are in the next few weeks.

TIFFANY HAYES: Following on what Nneka said, I think she's done with school, so she doesn't have to worry about that. I've just been keeping focused on finishing up the school year because I'm not done.

I get to take this time to really focus on my classes and only my classes, because we don't have practices to go to or tournaments to worry about. So that's definitely been one thing that's keeping me down on the ground and not so much high on a high or anything like that.

I got school to help me out, and I know Nnemka's done. Lucky.

DEVEREAUX PETERS: I probably agree with both of them, as well. I've been keeping busy. I actually still have class. So I'm not quite off the hook yet. So I have that to focus on for now. I don't think it's that nerve wracking.

I think all of us have already done what we have throughout the season, and they are going to take what they take. So that's out of our hands, so I don't think it's anything really to be that nervous about for now.

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: I would say the same thing. I'm just playing ball. And I would agree with Nneka, like shopping a little bit and just like yeah, like Devereaux said, the hard part is kind of over, and now just kind of have to wait and see where you get picked.

Yeah, just like chilling for now. Just working out.


Q. Nneka, have you thought about being with L.A. or anything like that? Are you really going through that kind of a moment? And also for Samantha, just wanted to ask how much, if at all, Katie Smith has helped you as far as getting ready for the WNBA.

NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: You can always dream about getting picked, whether you're the top pick or going to the place you're going to. But like I mentioned before, I'm just happy to be there. I know it sounds very cliché, but it really is true. I never really as a freshman, I never really thought that I would be in this type of position.

But you know, I can always dream about or fantasize about what it would be like if I could get to go somewhere. But in all, I'm just kind of taking it day by day. And whether they pick me or not, I'm going to end up somewhere hopefully, and I look forward to it.

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Just like helping out the team and practicing and stuff like I always ask questions. And she's been really supportive and just like any little details about that she'll tell me, I definitely pay attention to and when I can, I kind of ask some questions about it. Just to kind of get a feel of what is it like. So I would say she's definitely been a great help.


Q. Did you ever talk to her at all about possibly being teammates?

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: No, not really. I never like thought about it to be honest with you. I would just ask her like just questions about practice and like about the girls and everything.


Q. Wondering since you last left high school four or five years ago, did you picture yourself being in this position right now getting ready for the WNBA draft, and also having come off playing back to back national title games?

DEVEREAUX PETERS: Absolutely not. It's something you hope for and you dream about, but you don't really know what's to come, especially with all of my injuries that I've had to deal with. There are times I didn't even know if I was going to continue to play basketball. It's definitely a blessing to be at this point now and to have come so far with all of that I've been through, and I definitely wouldn't have imagined ever having as great a career as I've had and everything and to be at this point right now.


Q. Which do you think will be more challenging, the pace of the game in the WNBA or the physicality?

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: I don't really know, like in college, it's pretty fast. Like I like to play at a fast pace. So I would guess I would have to say probably the physicality, just because, I don't really have a feel for it yet like how physical it really is. So I bet like the first day of training camp, you know, someone might get real physical and then I'll be able to adjust. But I guess physicality, just because I like to play up tempo.

TIFFANY HAYES: I would definitely agree and say that the physicality of the game. We are kind of used to it at that pace already here. It's probably the same in the WNBA game, probably faster, but for now I'm still going to go with physicality, because like she said, you don't know how physical it is yet. But once you get there, you can adjust. So because I'm used to a fast pace, I'm going to go with physicality.


Q. Sammy, when did you start dreaming about being at this point in your life, and when did you realize that this possibility really, really was a real thing that could happen for you?

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: I think like in high school, like if you're serious at ball, and you're going to go with a scholarship, it's in the back of everyone's head that you want to be a pro, just because it's like the highest level that you can play at. So I would say like in high school.

What was the second part of your question?


Q. You're at this point now where you're probably going to get drafted in the first round. At some point at Ohio State, did you think, I am going to be good enough?

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Okay. Like Coach, like in the beginning, he was just like, if you keep working hard, you know, could you have a career in this if you want. I just took that and kind of worked hard off of that. I'm just lucky to be here.


Q. And do you have any feel for where you're going to go, what pick?

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: I'll just be happy.


Q. Nneka, I know when you were growing up, you were not necessarily thinking about it was not a freshman playing in the WNBA. Did the Comets in Houston, were you aware of them growing up, because all four of you on this call are young enough that your entire childhoods and up through adolescence, you had the WNBA to look at. Wonder if the Comets made had any resonance in your life even as a younger kid.

NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: Absolutely. I actually started watching the Comets even before I started playing basketball. After that I went to a couple of games around my schedule, AU. But it's interesting, I wasn't a true fan of the game when I was younger because I started so late.

But as I grew to understand the game and play and get better every year, it interested me even more and I got to watch some games on TV.

But I definitely remember the Comets being around and Sheryl Swoopes making her rounds around Houston and coming and talking to a lot of the young players and getting them to understand the importance of women in sport.


Q. Did any of the three of you guys, do you remember as a kid when you were still a little kid, maybe before you were thinking that much about being a basketball player, was the WNBA something you knew about and was it in your consciousness?

DEVEREAUX PETERS: Yeah, I definitely thought about watching it when I was younger. I went to a WNBA camp that was in Chicago and was super excited about that. So it was definitely something I grew up with when it came out and paid attention to. I never thought that I would be having this opportunity right now.

SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: I would say like when I was like just starting out, I don't really think that I was thinking about like turning pro or the WNBA. I wasn't quite too into it at that time, just because all I really knew was I liked to make passes and dribble. It wasn't like at that time like, you know, something that I was really thinking about. But as I got older, for sure, that was like a dream.

TIFFANY HAYES: I'm going to go with Sam and say the same thing. When I was younger, I wasn't really thinking about it. I kind of knew about it but it wasn't really in my mind to go. I started late playing and I was kind of an under the radar type of player my whole life. So it really didn't cross my mind that I was going to make it here.

And when I was younger, I really didn't think I would be up for a scholarship to go to college to be honest. The WNBA generally was not in any mind but now that I'm here, it feels great.


Q. If the world was different and you guys were in college and you knew that playing professional basketball would make you $4 million as a rookie as the guys can do, do you think you ever be tempted to do what most of the great men's players do and leave school early, or do you think women are just generally wired differently or tend to enjoy the college experience more than the guys?

NNEMKADI OGWUMIKE: Oh, that's an interesting question. I think I mean, assuming that that was true, I would think that a lot of other things in life would go differently for women.

At that point I think a lot of women might even take kind of the same path that a lot of the guys do. It's so hard to even really say that. But my family is really into education. There's always life after basketball, because I can't play when I'm, like, 70.

But I think, I guess in that situation, I might have tried to possibly I guess accelerate my graduation process, so graduate even earlier. But definitely finish school. School has been a priority regardless of how much money I would be able to make in the league.


Q. Jeremy Lamb left UCONN yesterday, and maybe if you were him, you might have gotten a chance. What's your perspective on it?

TIFFANY HAYES: I would have to agree with Nneka. She took all of the words pretty much right out of my mouth.

I mean, it's definitely important to have an education. It's important for a lot of people, not just men and not just women. So it's kind of hard to say whether we took a different path.

I mean, I think I would definitely do the same thing, like Nneka said, try to speed up the graduation process so you can leave whenever you finish school. I would definitely stay and do all my years before all that.


Q. Is there a topic even joking around why the rules are different for the men? Was it ever something you guys just discussed idly in the time you spent together on buses or in locker rooms?

DEVEREAUX PETERS: I mean, it was never I don't know. I never really thought of it like that, simply because my family wouldn't have it any other way. It was always education first. So it was never a question of why the rules are different, because even if they were different, I wouldn't have any other choice.

So that's not something I really talked about before with my team or that's really brought up. With education being so important, it's not something that's brought up that much.


Q. Can you comment about what part of the Notre Dame experience has best prepared you for professional basketball and why you feel that way?

DEVEREAUX PETERS: That’s a good question. I would say just the atmosphere here and how the team and the coaches carry themselves, and they really teach you…instilling in you how to carry yourself in public and how to hold a positive image, and that people are always watching you; and professionally, it's going to be the same idea; that you're always in the public eye and you have to carry yourself in a certain light. Make sure you say the right things and act the right way, on the court and off the court.