Three of the biggest draft prospects reflected on their college careers and looked forward to the draft on a media conference call.
Q. Shatori, just wanted to ask you how you think your experience at Maryland has prepared you for the WNBA.
SHATORI WALKER-KIMBROUGH: It has prepared me far more — I’m just really glad that I’ve had a coach like Coach Brenda Frese who has prepared me for times like this. She’s challenged me as a player for my four years, and I can’t thank her enough, not only as a player but as a leader and as a person, as well, and I feel as if I’m really prepared because I put my full trust, and I respect her with the utmost. Q. Shatori, what has Coach B said to you to kind of get you ready for the next level, and have you talked to any former teammates like Alyssa Thomas about what you might expect in the NBA?
SHATORI WALKER-KIMBROUGH: Yeah, they just said not to overthink it, just to continue to trust the process. At the end of the day it’s still basketball, so just continue to be open and guided by the veterans that are in the league already and continue to have fun.
Q. Alexis, I just wanted to see first how you’re feeling, how you’re healing up after the season, and second, a couple of the coaches we talked to said you were really pro ready and could play out of the guard spot, and I wanted to see how you felt that that’s what they think of you.
ALEXIS JONES: Everything is fine with my knees. I feel fine. I’m ready to go. I’ve been working out really hard this past week. I mean, it’s good to know that they feel like that I’m pro ready. I’m excited for this draft just like everybody else. I’m just excited to be at this next level, and I’m just blessed to have this opportunity.
Q. Nia, what parts of your game do you think translate well to the WNBA and what part of your game have you been working on in the past month since the season ended?
NIA COFFEY: I just think my overall ability to play different positions gives me an advantage and just stuff that I’m working on now is just being more aggressive from the wing, just really focusing on my mid-range game and being able just to stretch any defense and just a lot of ball handling, of course.
Q. Nia, obviously we all know here about your basketball family, your brother and your dad. How much of that kind of growing up in that kind of family helped you get to where you are today, and who are you taking with you to New York?
NIA COFFEY: Yeah, it was my brother and sister who actually got me into basketball, and just having my dad having had so much experience really helped me, and he’s just been my lifelong coach, so I really appreciate my family for that. I plan on taking my assistant coach, Christie Sides; my trainer Jeff; my parents; and my best friend Lauren Douglas.
Q. Alexis, when you entered college, the idea of playing professionally in your hometown really wasn’t even feasible at this point. With the Wings having moved, what would that opportunity mean to you?
ALEXIS JONES: It again, would be great for my fans, my family, my friends, just for the opportunity to stay close and play in that area — I’m glad there’s a team in Dallas. It shows we have a really good fan base in Dallas that loves the game of basketball and women’s sports in general, so I’m sure that will expand a lot more. But yeah, if I did get picked, it would give my dad the opportunity, my mom, just right here at home, so I would just feel right at home, and I wouldn’t have no problem.
Q. Nia, are there any anxious moments for you at this time? Now that the draft is less than a week away, anything you’re working on as you try to get ready for hearing your name announced next Thursday night?
NIA COFFEY: I’ve been just trying to work on anything that would just help improve my game, just shooting, dribbling, just post moves, just making sure I keep my conditioning up. I just feel like as long as I can show that I can play in different areas and I’m injury safe, I feel like I should be fine.
Q. I have questions for Nia and Shatori. With both of you, I want to know what does your success in college and your projected future success in the draft, what do you think that will mean for elevating your respective programs? And also for Nia in particular, I wanted to know what kind of feedback you’re getting and what would it mean for you if you were playing in Chicago.
NIA COFFEY: Northwestern wasn’t really known for its basketball program, and just seeing the changes they went through in four years, they still have a long way to go, but just kind of showing people that it’s a good place to go for a basketball program and for school, and I just hope that Northwestern can get on the level of the Dukes, the Stanfords one day, so that would be the goal for the school and the program. I haven’t talked to Chicago. I have heard they’re interested. It would be amazing to stay in Chicago. I love Chicago a lot. But making any team would just be a dream come true for me.
SHATORI WALKER-KIMBROUGH: Yeah, I’m also really excited for this next chapter. I understand that everyone — just about everyone in the WNBA has had major success in college, so I’m not expecting college to be treated any differently. I’m just really excited to start this next chapter with a clean slate and coming in with an open mind to see if I can take my game to the next level.
Q. This question is for Shatori. Are there any current WNBA players, whether it’s from Maryland, your alma mater, or another school, that you talked to heading into the draft and your rookie season, whether it be about advice, and also maybe any WNBA players that you would maybe compare your game to heading into your rookie season?
SHATORI WALKER-KIMBROUGH: I recently talked to Crystal Langhorne. She’s in our campus a lot just working out. Like I said earlier, she said to stay openminded, continue to trust the process and have fun because at the end of the day this is the game that I love and I started playing as a little girl. My dreams are finally coming true. So just soak it all in and appreciate the moment. Someone I compare my game to? I like to watch all different types of basketball, different levels. I don’t know if necessarily just one specific person that I would compare my game to, but I like to watch and absorb different things from different players from different levels and just try to compact it into one and just try to have my own identity.
Q. Shatori, I’ve seen the stories where your mom can’t bear to stand still and watch your games. Is she going to be able to watch the draft?
SHATORI WALKER-KIMBROUGH: Yeah, she will be there at my table.