As the UConn hero and winner of the 2011 ESPY award for Best Female College Athlete, and winner of the Honda-Broderick Cup for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the year, few draft picks have had that kind of buzz Moore had coming out of college.
She was the only three-time Wade Trophy winner, and the second player in NCAA history to nab four-time All-America status. She was also the first player, male or female, to get the Big East Player Honors as a freshman. She was scorching UConn in a blaze of talent.
The WNBA and ESPN quickly pounced on her and began molding her into one of the new faces of the franchise. She was the first overall pick of the draft and her 23 is currently the best-selling jersey in the WNBA. She was also the first WNBA rookie to start in an All-Star Game since Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings in 2002 and the first Lynx player in the history of the franchise.
Besides her All-Star record-breaking, she was the first WNBA player to represent Jordan Brand. For her first All-Star appearance, they gave her a pair of orange Jordan Fly Wades: Maya Moore Player Exclusives, which matched the Western Conference colours.
And why not? Moore has so much talent and intelligence that even her bad games are above average. With her on board, the Lynx are having one of the best seasons so far in the franchise history and Moore has been averaging 14.2 points, scoring a career-high 26 points against the Connecticut Sun last week. When it comes to rookies, her focus on the game is a breath of fresh air. She told WNBA.com, “I am all about winning ballgames. I have been ushered into this game at a realistic pace. I don’t have to do everything for this team, but I have the mind-set that I want to do everything I can to help the team. Right now, as long as I am learning from the mistakes, I am fine with that. I just want to play well and win a championship.”
And while the move to the professional league has been jarring, she’s been focused and optimistic about it. In an interview, she said, “I guess the easiest part is that it’s basketball. It’s still the game that I love and have been working hard at for most of my life. It’s still the same game, so there’s an element of comfort in that, but then again, there’s a lot of little ways that it’s not the same game. The little details are so much more important here and that’s something that I always try to focus on. I have great veterans around me that have been helping me like Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) and Whay (Lindsay Whalen), helping me move forward with just positioning, decisions and certain parts of the game. I’d probably say defensively it’s way more important for me to be locked in even more because there are so many weapons at the three spot in this league that if you sleep for a second, they will burn you.”
Moore’s teammate, Candice Wiggins, a basketball legend herself, talked about Moore in an interview and said, “She’s just so fun to play with and I just feel like I can do anything when she’s out on the court.”
Whether or not she’ll be as much of a fashionista as Wiggins or icon Cappie Pondexter will remain to be seen. What we do know is that with the boys locked out, Maya Moore’s talent, drive and ambition is just another reason why the WNBA is the game to be watching right now.