Lindsey Wilson has her portrait taken at Storm Media Day. Aaron Last/Storm Photos
Wilson is Back at Home
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | May 4, 2010
For Seattle Storm training camp invitee Lindsey Wilson, Sunday's preseason game had extra meaning. It was Wilson's first WNBA action since 2003, the year she was drafted out of Iowa State, and it came in front of family (about 10 in all) and friends just minutes from where Wilson grew up and graduated from Roosevelt High School.
"Being a Seattle girl, it's very nice to be home - mom's home cooking and all that," she said. "There's a lot of people I haven't maybe kept contact with, but they come out of the woodwork - people who have seen me play over the years. It's always fun to see people you haven't seen in a while."
Wilson has enjoyed a lengthy career overseas, playing for teams in Greece, Lithuania and Turkey, among other countries. The experience has been a positive one, but not quite the same as playing in the WNBA.
"Playing abroad is fun, it's a great experience," she said, "but there's really nothing like playing in America - especially in my hometown. That's even more cherished after being abroad for a lot of years. You might know some people, but it's not the same. It is nice to be playing in America again."
This is Wilson's first appearance in a WNBA training camp since 2004, when she was last with the Storm. Since then, Wilson has gained experience and polished her game. She's become a valuable international player, playing in the Euroleague and averaging 15.5 points and 3.4 assists per game as the leading scorer for Panathinaikos, which finished third in Greece this past season. Still, it's been a challenge for her to attract attention from WNBA teams because she has been off their radar.
"It's difficult for older players who haven't been in the league - you go overseas and even if you get a lot more experience, sometimes it's hard to get a look," Wilson explained. "Then training camp rosters have been cut down the last couple of years. I feel like I'm a better player than I was, yet I got more opportunity when I was 22.
"Training camps are short and people are coming from overseas, so there are a lot of reasons for it, but it's been difficult the last couple of years. I haven't been able to get my foot in the door very easily. People just weren't inviting players that weren't right out of college or had been in the league."
Storm Head Coach Brian Agler is heavily engaged in international play, which is why the Storm invited Euroleague veteran Jana Veselá to training camp and drafted Hungarian Tijana Krivacevic in the third round of this year's draft. Still, even Agler largely reached back to Wilson's experience at Iowa State in deciding to invite her to training camp.
"I saw her play a lot in college and knew what kind of player she was," said Agler. "I watched some video. She's just a hard-nosed, competitive person. She runs the point. We wanted to bring in a few point guards and let them try out and play and see how it goes."
Certainly, Wilson's international experience is paying off now. It helped her rapidly grasp the Storm's system when she arrived in training camp a few days late because her season ended in Greece the same day the Storm began practicing. Wilson (and fellow invitee Laura Kurz) played on Sunday, arrived in Seattle Tuesday night and were playing in a scrimmage against the Chinese National Team by Wednesday afternoon.
Director of Player Development and Scouting Jenny Boucek, who knew Wilson from her training camp appearance and times she joined the Storm's practice squad to scrimmage against the team, drew up the team's base offenses while the team bused to Oregon, and that was enough to get Wilson started.
"Playing professionally, you have to become adaptable quickly," she explained. "We're moving teams all the time. You have to build on-court relationships, you have to understand new coaching staffs. Coach Agler has a lot of different sets that he runs and it's pretty complex. You've got to pick stuff up quickly. That's where the experience and the maturity sets in and the basketball knowledge of having played so many years comes in. It's huge - especially playing point guard.
"I think going overseas and playing post-college is a great opportunity to improve. You get smarter; the game kind of slows down. Plus you're exposed to different types of basketball, different players over in Europe. You kind of have to expand your repertoire. You're exposed to so many different styles and techniques. That's fun. To play as an adult is very different than to play as a young woman."
When he invited Wilson to camp, Agler did not yet know the Storm would draft fellow Cyclone Alison Lacey in the first round of the WNBA Draft or sign WNBA veteran Loree Moore to a training camp contract as a free agent. With the competition for spots in the backcourt so fierce, Wilson will need to show she's developed her game overseas.
"Is that going to be good enough in the end?" Agler asked rhetorically. "I don't know. I think it's worthy of an opportunity."
That's all Wilson wanted.
"I always felt like I was good enough," she said. "I know the WNBA is like most things in life - right place, right time. My whole goal was to get a look, get a good chance and an opportunity in a camp that was looking for a player like me. Sue (Bird) needs some help, so it's just nice to be here in a place where you're not just another body."