Hello World - Meet Epiphanny Prince

Few knew who she was when Jerry and Kathy Prince raised her in Brooklyn, New York, where she once broke a high school record by scoring 113 points in a game. Not many outside of New Jersey knew her name when she left Rutgers University to become the first high-profile player to leave school for the pros in Russia and Turkey. And some were still scratching their heads when she was taken with the Chicago Sky’s fourth overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft.

In her third season with the Sky, this much is clear: Epiphanny Prince is a revelation. On back-to-back nights, Prince scored 30-plus points in thrilling, come-from-behind victories over Washington on June 1 and again at Atlanta on June 2. Against the Mystics, Prince scored 16 of her 31 points in the final quarter to help the Sky eclipse Washington, 65-63. Sky coach Pokey Chatman said shortly after the game, “I hope she’s asleep right now getting rested for Atlanta.”

A 22-point Atlanta lead the following day seemed to wake the beast within. Prince’s 33 points helped the Sky rally from a team-record deficit to a 94-92 win, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send the game into overtime where she scored all eight of the team’s points. Within that span of 24 hours, Prince managed to turn in two of the Sky’s all-time top six single-game scoring performances. She was subsequently named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for her first such honor.

While Prince’s late-game heroics are certainly timely, they’re also cardiac arrest-inducing. “Sometimes she struggles with not wanting to take over,” Chatman said. “I have to tell her, ‘Please, just take over.’ Only Epiphanny can stop Epiphanny.” Prior to the WNBA, Prince’s teams had always asked her to score. But in a league where she is surrounded by talented players like herself, Prince initially found the adjustment difficult because she wanted to be more unselfish with the ball. ”It wasn’t easy at all because I played the 2 my whole life and they asked me to play point guard here,” she said. “I’m not a vocal leader and the point guard has to be the loudest player on the court.” It seems Prince has finally found a balance within Chicago’s system. The soft-spoken guard has become something of a silent assassin – striking late in games when no one suspects it.

Through five games this season, Prince is averaging 23.8 points per game – tops in the WNBA. Perhaps even more impressive is her torrid shooting percentage of .518 and equally efficient mark of .517 from beyond the arc. She is also the team’s fastest sleight of hand, picking off 2.6 steals per game. But it’s a trait that doesn’t get recorded in the books for which Prince is quickly gaining notoriety – her fearlessness. “I’m not afraid to do anything on the court,” she said.

Prince spent her childhood cautiously navigating through a Brooklyn neighborhood that’s a bit rough around the edges, which helped her develop the kind of backbone that’s apparent in a long line of New York-area point guards including Stephon Marbury, Rod Strickland and Sebastian Telfair. “We’re tough-skinned,” she said. “I think it’s because of the neighborhoods we come from and we just try to survive it.”

Prince still felt like she wasn’t ready for the world after three years at Rutgers – just 25 minutes away from home across the bay in Newark, New Jersey. So she headed to the faraway lands of Russia to find out who she was. “I had to go into the real world by myself,” she said. “It allowed me to grow up because I was never away from my family.”

Prince took advantage of her chance to play for Spartak Moscow Region and her future coach, Chatman. She quickly learned the differences between the college game and the pro game, which made her eventual transition to the WNBA a smoother one. “I was able to play against some of the people that were in the league already,” she said. “I felt like overseas was a little more physical and they let you get away with a lot of stuff. It prepared me a lot.”

In the dictionary under the word “epiphany,” is the definition: a sudden insight into the meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple occurrence or experience. Prince came from simple beginnings and has finally grown into her own. She’s proved she doesn’t have to talk for her name to be known – her game is loud enough. The season is young, but the rest of the WNBA will soon find out what Chicago already knows – they had an Epiphanny.