Looking Back: Carolyn Swords in 2012

Looking Back: Carolyn Swords in 2012

Taken by Chicago with the 15th overall pick of the 2011 WNBA Draft, Swords saw limited action in her rookie season backing up superstar Sylvia Fowles. She finished that year with averages of 2.7 points and 1.8 rebounds per game, all the while taking notes from her All-Star and Olympian tutor on how to man the post. Then, somewhere between Spain and Turkey – where she played overseas last winter – Swords came back to the Sky extra prepared to shine in case she got a chance. That moment came in late August when Fowles went down with a lower leg injury and the Sky needed Swords to step up.

Swords started nine of her 30 games this season and increased her averages to 4.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in 11 minutes per game. Her rebounding rate was fifth best on the team despite ten other teammates playing more minutes. But Sword’s most impressive statistic – and one that’s indicative of her potential for the future – is her 57.1 field goal percentage, the second-highest in the entire league. The highest mark, of course, belonged to her own teammate, Fowles (63.8 percent). When Swords was given starter-like minutes of 20 or more per game (which happened eight times in 2012), she proved equally as consistent, registering 10.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

Swords’ soft-spoken and gentle demeanor belied her hard-working nature and 6-foot-6 presence on the court. She isn’t afraid to grind it out in the paint against some of the most physical players in the league. A former National Honor Society student, Swords also employs a high basketball IQ and knows how to position herself on the block for her teammates to find her for easy buckets. She was careful with the ball, turning it over just 19 times all year – the fewest on the team. Only two players who played more minutes than her in the league had fewer turnovers per game – San Antonio’s Shameka Christon and Tulsa’s Karima Christmas.

Swords’ persistence by staying long after practices to work on short hook shots with both hands or mid-range jump shots paid off for the former Boston College star. With a dozen games remaining in the season, it was crunch time for a Sky team looking to secure its first playoff berth in franchise history. Swords certainly did her part, beginning with a back-to-back home-and-home set with the Connecticut Sun. In the first game on Aug. 26, the center turned in a then career-high 14 points to go with six rebounds. She followed that up two days later with 10 points and seven boards. Her best performance, however, came on Sept. 20 against Atlanta, when she topped her career high with 16 points (on 8-of-12 shooting) and matched her career high of nine rebounds in 31 minutes.

The Sky doesn’t always measure success with on-court play alone, as Swords has proven to be a model citizen in the community. Despite her busy hoops schedule, she found plenty of time to participate actively in charity work around Chicago. In August, she visited the Anixter Center for people with disabilities and spent the afternoon sharing experiences and shooting hoops with them. She devoted much of her time while playing overseas to write to 30 different pen pals in a class at R.C. Hill Elementary School in Romeoville. Along with Le’coe Willingham, she hosted a Dribble to Stop Diabetes basketball camp in July. It gave children with diabetes a chance to meet others who can relate to them while building friendships through teamwork. All this on top of conducting occasional hoops clinics and helping out with the charities of her teammates. Swords has certainly proved a valuable addition in the Sky’s locker room and in the city of Chicago. Currently playing for Ceyhan Belediyespor in Ceyhan, Turkey, Swords can rest assured the Sky family will be happy to see her back in the Windy City in 2013.