NCAAW: Baylor's NaLyssa Smith to be 2022 WNBA Draft lottery pick - Sports1
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NCAAW: Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith to be 2022 WNBA Draft lottery pick

Things look a little different today for the Baylor Bears women’s basketball program.

Kim Mulkey, who coached Baylor to national championships in 2005, 2012 and 2019, is out and now leads the LSU Tigers.Nicky Curran, who coached the WNBA for three seasons before heading to Baylor to replace Mulkey, brought some changes in philosophy Chief among them for the Bears is a five-out offense with more ball movement and 3-point shooting (28.5 percent 3-point shooting) this season; 14.1% 3-point shooting last season).

For the Bears (10-4; 0-2 Big 12), the changes have had mixed results so far. Baylor has lost two major nonconference games against No. 3 Maryland and No. 13 Michigan and has yet to win a game in the Big 12 — unusual for a fan of college girls’ basketball sight.

One constant, though, in Curran’s first season at Baylor is the play of the forwards. Nalyssa Smith. The 6-foot-4 senior is picking up where she left off in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, posting more impressive stats than she did under Mulkey, And gain recognition at conferences and nationally.

It wasn’t just college award voters who noticed. Smith entered the 2021-22 NCAA season widely regarded as a potential lottery pick, and at this juncture, she’s almost certain she’ll be a top-4 pick this spring.mock draft ESPN, wire net and Winside All predicted Smith would be selected second overall by the Indiana Heat, and stand report The latest simulation puts her at No. 1 overall.

That consensus is pretty much the highest accolade a WNBA draft rookie can get, and while there’s still plenty of basketball to play in the NCAA season, it seems a foregone conclusion that Smith will be one of the first players to hear her name in the 2022 draft. Let’s take a look at her game and her stats and talk about what makes her such a great player.

Honors and Statistics

Smith’s career at Baylor began in 2018 when Total move 13 Came off the bench after future WNBA players Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox. Smith’s impact on the Bears became apparent after she was named a full-time starter next season. She was named to the 2020 All-12 Freshman Team and also received an All-American Honor Award. Associated Press and WBCA.

Smith continued to build on her success as a junior, averaging career highs in points (18), rebounds (8.9) and steals (1.2) per game. She has amassed numerous awards for her performance, including unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year honors and All-American Player of the Year honors. Associated Press, WBCA, USBWA and ESPN, WBCA Wade Trophy National Player of the Year and WBCA Katrina McLean Award Power Forward of the Year.

Unsurprisingly, Smith was rated Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year 2021-22 season.She was also rated Preseason All-American Depend on Associated Press, currently on the watch list Katrina McClain Award, Wood Award, Wade Trophy and Naismith Prize.

In the international arena, Smith Team USA At the 2018 FIBA ​​Americas U18 Championship.

How she helped the Bears

Few forwards in the 2022 draft class are more explosive than Smith, whose already stellar rebounding flourished as a senior.
Amy Contreras-USA TODAY Sports

As her stats suggest, Smith continues to climb up Baylor’s ladder, with her role steadily increasing with each season. It’s been a huge senior season so far. Smith is currently averaging 21.1 points and 12.3 rebounds — the highest levels of her career in both categories so far — while also outpacing steals and blocks per game for the first time.

What makes this increase in volume even more impressive is that the efficiency remains essentially the same. In her four seasons with the Bears, Smith reportedly shot at least 55.9 percent from two-point range, and since her sophomore season, she has scored at least 1.22 points per attempt. her basketball stats.

Watching Smith’s game for a few minutes, it’s clear what’s driving those metrics. Her physical talent is unlike most of her peers. She’s a great athlete, able to get off the floor quickly and sprint to the rim to finish the game with ease. Both her strength and body control make her a terrorist in the paint, and she can take a quick first step if the defense anywhere else on the floor protects her too closely.

In a nutshell: Smith does things most other players simply can’t, from overpowering defenders in the post to passing them in transition and getting past them on the rebound.

Rebounding is especially notable when watching Smith’s game. Despite her changing role at Baylor, she has always been an excellent rebounder, ranking no lower than 91 percent in total rebounding percentage any of her first three seasons as a bear.

However, as a senior, Smith has been dominant in rebounding. Only a handful of players in the nation currently have a higher defensive rebounding percentage (27.9 percent) and total rebounding percentage (20.9 percent) than Smith, who appears to be enjoying the extra space that Cullen’s new offense offers.

Obviously, Smith’s physicality will be her calling card when pro scouting evaluates, and with her first minute in the WNBA as a pick-and-roll/cutting big unlikely, her energy is dependent on her. Smith’s growing head-to-head game is key to her career potential. If she can show consistent 3-point shooting, it will make her dribble game more efficient and turn her into a true star as a finisher.

watch her play

Bears have three remaining Big 12 games to be televised nationally on ESPN2: Two against WNBA draft prospects Ashley Jones And the Iowa Cyclones (January 23rd and February 28th) and one against the rival Texas Longhorns (February 6th).All other Baylor games regular season schedule (Through March 6) Streaming is available with ESPN Plus streaming service.

All stats and team records for the 2021-22 NCAA season as of January 14, 2022.

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