Courtney Vandersloot

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Courtney Vandersloot
Courtney Vandersloot.jpg
WNBA's Chicago Sky  – No. 22
Point guard
Born (1989-02-08) February 8, 1989 (age 25)
Kent, Washington
Nationality American
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight 130 lb (59 kg)
High school Kentwood (Kent, Washington)
College Gonzaga (2007–2011)
Draft 3rd overall, 2011
Chicago Sky
WNBA career 2011–present
Non-WNBA career 2011–present
Profile WNBA player profile
WNBA teams
Chicago Sky (2011–present)
Non-WNBA teams
Beşiktaş (2011–present)
Awards and honors

European team : MBK Ružomberok, Slovakia, Europe

College Career
Career 2007–2011
Awards
Honors
Records

NCAA:

  • First NCAA Division I player of either gender with 2,000 points and 1,000 assists
  • Most assists in a season, Division I (367)
Tournaments
2008 WNIT, 2009 NCAA, 2010 NCAA, 2011 NCAA

Courtney Vandersloot (born February 8, 1989)[1] is an American basketball player, currently a point guard with the Chicago Sky in the WNBA and Beşiktaş in the Turkish Women's Basketball League (TKBL). The third selection in the 2011 WNBA Draft,[2] she had a successful first season in which she was selected for the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game[3] and named to the WNBA All-Rookie Team.[4]

During her college career at Gonzaga University, she was the only women's player in West Coast Conference history to be named the conference's player of the year three times, and also the only player to be named MVP of the WCC Women's Tournament three times.[5] In her final season at Gonzaga, she won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the top NCAA Division I women's player no taller than 5'8" (1.73 m) and Nancy Lieberman Award as the top player at her position in Division I women's basketball. Vandersloot is also the first Division I player, male or female, to have accumulated 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in a career,[6] and only the second female overall (current Old Dominion head coach Karen Barefoot accomplished the feat at Division III Christopher Newport University).[7]

Early life[edit]

Born in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Washington to parents who both worked for Boeing,[8] Vandersloot grew up in a neighborhood with many children her age, and said in a 2011 interview that "all we did was play sports, all sports." Her father built a sports court with a basketball goal behind the family house, but she almost never played there, choosing instead to play at a hoop in front of a neighbor's house where she could easily be seen by other children in the neighborhood. Most important to her future development as a player, she regularly played against boys.[5] During the third grade, she wrote a school paper about her dreams of one day playing in the WNBA.[8]

While Vandersloot regularly played basketball and many other sports as a child—she was also on a fast-pitch softball team that was runner-up in a Washington state tournament at age 11— her favorite sport was soccer; she had a poster of Mia Hamm on her bedroom wall.[8] She did not concentrate on basketball until high school:

High school[edit]

Vandersloot became a basketball star at Kentwood High School in her hometown. Her coach, Keith Hennig, a former player at Central Washington University who is 6 inches taller than Vandersloot, regularly played one-on-one against her either before or after the team's practice. He would later say, "I did not take it easy on her at all. I was more physical than anything she's ever been used to. At times, I wasn't too nice. I would ride her and foul her. I'd put my hand in her face and she would whine and complain about fouls. I'd say, 'There's no fouls out here.' " She eventually reached the point where she regularly beat her coach off the dribble.[8]

A pivotal moment in her life came during the summer before her sophomore year, when she went with a friend to the Gonzaga University girls' basketball camp. She would say about the trip in 2011, "I just fell in love with this place. I felt so comfortable here." The Gonzaga women's basketball staff was equally enthusiastic about her, except for head coach Kelly Graves, who had little opportunity to see her during the camp. Graves would finally get to see Vandersloot at length in her junior year, on the day before the 2006 Washington Class 4A state tournament. He offered her a scholarship after seeing her practice, even though he did not stay for the tournament.[5]

That season, she had averaged more than 18 points and 7 assists as she led Kentwood to its first state tournament appearance; they would lose in the second round of the tournament to Spokane's University High, led by future Tennessee star Angie Bjorklund. After that season, Vandersloot was asked by many people if she would consider Washington or another Pac-10 school, but decided against it after a Pac-10 assistant told Hennig she was too small.[5] She would eventually sign with Gonzaga in November 2006, during her senior year at Kentwood; she noted in 2011, "I wasn't really being highly recruited and I just didn't want to go through the stressful recruiting process, so I committed early to Gonzaga."[8]

Vandersloot took her game to another level as a senior, averaging 26 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals while leading Kentwood to a third-place finish in the state tournament; their only loss was in the state semifinals. She scored 113 points in the tournament, one shy of the state record for a girls' tournament, and was named MVP. Vandersloot was also consensus first-team all-state, and was named the state's player of the year by the Seattle Times.[9] Vandersloot was rated as the No. 64 national prospect,[10] and No. 35 among guards,[11] by Scout.com.

College career[edit]

By her own admission, Vandersloot came to Gonzaga as a shy freshman. During that first season, Graves suggested that she call the school's greatest point guard in history for advice—Hall of Famer John Stockton. Vandersloot would recall that it "took me a couple of weeks to build up,"[5] and when she finally called Stockton for the first time, she hoped that she would reach his voice mail so she wouldn't have to talk.[12] Vandersloot eventually worked with Stockton throughout her Gonzaga career.[5]

As a freshman in 2007–08, she was the West Coast Conference newcomer of the year and named to the 10-member All-WCC first team after averaging 10.3 points, 5.7 assists, and 1.9 steals per game entering the WCC tournament, finishing in the top five in the WCC in the latter two categories while the Zags went 13–1 in conference play and earned the tournament's top seed.[13] However, the Bulldogs lost in the WCC final to San Diego[14] and ultimately missed out on the NCAA Tournament, playing instead in the WNIT. They defeated UC Davis in the first round[15] before falling to Colorado in the second round.[16]

Year Team Record (WCC) Games Played/Started Minutes/Game Points/Game Rebounds/Game Assists/Game Turnovers/Game Assist/Turnover Ratio Steals/Game
2007–08[17] 25–9 (13–1) 34/27 28.3 10.6 3.9 5.6 3.0 1.85 1.8

In her 2008–09 sophomore season, she set a school record in assists with 239;[5] at the end of the regular season, her average of 7.3 per game led the conference, and she was also third in the conference in scoring at 16.4 per game.[18] Vandersloot won the first of what would be three WCC Player of the Year awards.[18] The Bulldogs went on to win the WCC Tournament, with Vandersloot named tournament MVP.[19] In the NCAA Tournament, the Zags defeated Xavier for the program's first NCAA Tournament win[20] before narrowly losing in the second round to Pitt.[21]

Year Team Record (WCC) Games Played/Started Minutes/Game Points/Game Rebounds/Game Assists/Game Turnovers/Game Assist/Turnover Ratio Steals/Game
2008–09[22] 27–7 (12–2) 32/31 32.8 16.4 4.1 7.5 3.8 1.99 2.2

As a junior in 2009–10, Vandersloot led Division I in assists, averaging 9.4 per game,[23] while leading the Zags to an unbeaten record in conference play.[24] During that season, she broke her own school record for assists in a season with 321,[23] and also broke the Gonzaga and WCC records for career assists.[5] Vandersloot was again named both WCC Player of the Year[24] and WCC Tournament MVP[25] while leading the Bulldogs to a second consecutive WCC Tournament title. In the NCAA Tournament, Vandersloot led the Zags one round farther than in 2009, upsetting No. 2 seed (and 2011 champion) Texas A&M before losing in the Sweet Sixteen to the Xavier team they had knocked out the year before.[20]

Year Team Record (WCC) Games Played/Started Minutes/Game Points/Game Rebounds/Game Assists/Game Turnovers/Game Assist/Turnover Ratio Steals/Game
2009–10[26] 29–5 (14–0) 34/34 32.6 14.1 3.8 9.4 4.3 2.21 3.6

Her senior year at Gonzaga, 2010–11, can be summed up as a season of milestones. She led the WCC in both scoring and assists on the way to a second straight unbeaten season in conference play.[27] Vandersloot was named WCC Player of the Year for an unprecedented[5] third time.[27] The Zags again won the WCC Tournament, and Vandersloot was named tournament MVP for the third straight time,[28] also becoming the first women's player in WCC history to win that honor three times.[5]

In the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs were a No. 11 seed, but had the advantage of playing their first-round and potential second-round games at their home court of McCarthey Athletic Center. They would take full advantage of their home court in the first two rounds. The Zags, seeded No. 11 in their region, opened the tournament with a 92–86 upset of Iowa, with Vandersloot scoring a career-high 34 points.[29] In their second-round game against No. 3 seed UCLA, Vandersloot finished with 29 points and 17 assists, one assist shy of the record for a Division I tournament game, as the Zags took down the Bruins 89–75. During that game, she became the first player in Division I history to amass 2,000 career points and 1,000 career assists.[6] The win advanced them to the Sweet Sixteen for the second straight year, and to a regional tournament that would be held less than two miles (3 km) from the Gonzaga campus at Spokane Arena.

During the Bulldogs' next game, a 76–69 win over Louisville, Vandersloot broke the Division I women's record for assists in a season previously held by Suzie McConnell. She finished with 29 points, 7 assists, and 7 steals as the Zags became the lowest-seeded team ever to reach a regional final in the women's tournament.[30] Their tournament run, and Vandersloot's college career, would end one game later as Stanford would defeat the Zags 83–60. While she finished with 26 points, only four came in the second half.[31] In addition to her other milestones during the season, she also broke the Gonzaga single-season scoring record.[32]

Year Team Record (WCC) Games Played/Started Minutes/Game Points/Game Rebounds/Game Assists/Game Turnovers/Game Assist/Turnover Ratio Steals/Game
2010–11[33] 31–5 (14–0) 36/36 32.9 19.8 8.4 10.2 3.3 3.08 3.2

Vandersloot became one of the most decorated players of the 2010–11 season. She won the women's Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the top Division I player no taller than 5'8" (1.73 m),[34] and the Nancy Lieberman Award as the top point guard in Division I women's basketball.[32] She was also named to multiple All-America teams. The AP named her a second-team All-America; she became the first women's player in WCC history to be named to that specific team.[35] She also was named to the five-woman Wooden All-America Team, another honor never before achieved by a WCC player.[36] Finally, she was named to the 10-player USBWA All-America team, becoming the first Gonzaga player so honored,[37] and the 10-member State Farm Coaches All-America team, another first for a WCC player.[38]

Her impact on the Gonzaga program can be measured by another statistic—home attendance. The year before she arrived in Spokane, the Bulldogs averaged 1,492 with a team that would make its first NCAA Tournament appearance. By her junior year, attendance had risen to 2,935, and rose again to 3,824 in her senior season, with the Zags selling out the McCarthey Athletic Center twice before the NCAA tournament.[5]

Professional career[edit]

Vandersloot was widely considered to be one of the top prospects in the 2011 WNBA Draft. Her relatively small size had been a subject of concern, as was her defense—despite averaging 4.5 steals per game in the 2011 NCAA tournament and ending her Gonzaga career with 366.[39] However, she was seen as likely to be one of the top seven picks,[40] and was ultimately picked third overall by the Chicago Sky.[2] One indicator of her likely draft position was that Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn, whose team needed depth at point guard going into the 2011 season, signed Shannon Bobbitt in February, convinced that Vandersloot would be picked before the Fever's turn at #9.[39]

John Stockton has given Vandersloot high praise, stating, "I don’t want to dramatize it too much but she’s like Gretzky in hockey. There is something that separates Courtney from others. (Adam) Morrison (a recent Gonzaga men's standout) was a little bit the same way."[5]

In her rookie season, she became the Sky's regular starter at the point, ultimately starting 26 of the team's 34 games.[41] Her average of 3.7 assists per game was 11th in the league[41] and second among rookies[42] She was also named as an Eastern Conference reserve for the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game,[3] and was one of the five members of the 2011 All-Rookie Team, gaining 10 of a possible 11 votes from the league's head coaches.[4]

During the WNBA season, she signed with the Turkish club Beşiktaş, effective with the 2011–12 European season.[43] Because the WNBA season is held in the northern hemisphere summer, the traditional offseason for basketball throughout the world, many of the league's players participate in overseas leagues during the traditional season and return to their WNBA teams in the summer.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "WNBA Prospect Profile: Courtney Vandersloot". Women's National Basketball Association. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Maya Moore heads to Lynx as top pick". ESPN. April 11, 2011. Retrieved April 11, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "WNBA names All-Star Game reserves". ESPN.com. July 22, 2011. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Maya Moore, Danielle Robinson Headline 2011 All-Rookie Team" (Press release). WNBA. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Trimmer, Dave (March 12, 2011). "Gonzaga and Courtney Vandersloot: Perfect match". The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Associated Press (March 21, 2011). "Courtney Vandersloot reaches 2,000 career points and 1,000 assists as Gonzaga moves on". ESPN. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Karen Barefoot biography". ODUSports.com. Old Dominion University. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Borzilleri, Meri-Jo (April 8, 2011). "Vandersloot ready to live the WNBA dream". ESPNW.com. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Player Bio: Courtney Vandersloot". Gonzaga University Athletics. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  10. ^ Nelson, Glenn (November 28, 2006). "Team Washington 2007". Scout.com. Retrieved April 8, 2011.  Note: The piece was updated after its original publication to reflect the 2007 Washington state tournaments.
  11. ^ "Courtney Vandersloot Profile". Scout.com. 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2011. 
  12. ^ Smith, Michelle (March 28, 2011). "Courtney Vandersloot at home in the spotlight". ESPNW. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  13. ^ "2008 All-WCC Women's Basketball Team Announced" (Press release). West Coast Conference. March 3, 2008. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Zags Fall In WCC Tournament Final" (Press release). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 9, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Bulldogs Defeat UC Davis in WNIT Opener" (Press release). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 20, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Bulldogs Fall In Second round of WNIT" (Press release). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 24, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Gonzaga Bulldogs Combined Team Statistics (as of Mar 24, 2008)" (PDF). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 24, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b "WCC Announces 2009 Women's Basketball All-Conference Team" (Press release). West Coast Conference. March 2, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Gonzaga Wins WCC Women's Basketball Tournament; Punches NCAA Tournament Ticket" (Press release). West Coast Conference. March 9, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Associated Press (March 28, 2010). "Gonzaga Falls to Xavier; Ends Historic Season". West Coast Conference. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  21. ^ Associated Press (March 24, 2009). "Zags Show Nation They Belong With The Elite; Fall In Final Minute To Pitt". West Coast Conference. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Gonzaga Bulldogs Combined Team Statistics (as of Mar 23, 2009)" (PDF). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 23, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  23. ^ a b "2010–11 Women's Basketball Individual Statistics: Courtney Vandersloot". NCAA. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  24. ^ a b "WCC Women's Basketball All-Conference Teams Announced" (Press release). West Coast Conference. March 1, 2010. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Gonzaga Captures Zappos.com WCC Women's Basketball Championship Title" (Press release). West Coast Conference. March 6, 2010. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Gonzaga Bulldogs Combined Team Statistics (as of Mar 27, 2010)" (PDF). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 27, 2010. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  27. ^ a b "2011 WCC Women's Basketball All-Conference Teams Announced" (Press release). West Coast Conference. March 1, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  28. ^ "2011 WCC Women's Basketball All-Tournament Team Announced" (Press release). West Coast Conference. March 7, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  29. ^ Associated Press (March 19, 2011). "Gonzaga knocks off sixth-seeded Iowa in NCAA first round". ESPN. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  30. ^ Associated Press (March 26, 2011). "Courtney Vandersloot, Gonzaga hold off Louisville to earn Elite 8 trip". ESPN. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  31. ^ Associated Press (March 28, 2011). "Stanford buries Gonzaga's upset bid to make fourth straight trip to Final Four". ESPN. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  32. ^ a b "Vandersloot Named the 2011 Nancy Lieberman Award Top Point Guard" (Press release). Rotary Club of Detroit. April 1, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  33. ^ "Gonzaga Bulldogs Combined Team Statistics (as of Mar 28, 2011)" (PDF). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 28, 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Gonzaga's Courtney Vandersloot Receives 2011 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award" (Press release). Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. March 7, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  35. ^ "Vandersloot Named Second Team AP All-America" (Press release). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 29, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  36. ^ "Vandersloot Named To John R. Wooden Award All America Team" (Press release). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 30, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  37. ^ "USBWA Names Courtney Vandersloot To All-America Team" (Press release). Gonzaga University Athletics. March 30, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  38. ^ "Vandersloot Named State Farm Coaches' All-America" (Press release). Gonzaga University Athletics. April 1, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  39. ^ a b Hansen, Chris (April 7, 2011). "Five draft prospects on the rise". ESPN HoopGurlz. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  40. ^ Hansen, Chris (April 9, 2011). "Moore, Cambage the top prospects". ESPN HoopGurlz. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  41. ^ a b "Courtney Vandersloot: Career Stats and Totals". WNBA.com. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  42. ^ "2011 Assists Leaders: Assists Per Game (rookies)". WNBA.com. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  43. ^ "All-Stars host Turkey league stars". Hürriyet Daily News. July 22, 2011. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 

External links[edit]