April 27, 2023 

What Hailey Van Lith brings to LSU

Dynamic transfer guard slots in as quarterback for Kim Mulkey

In November 2019, high school phenom Hailey Van Lith was choosing between two programs: Jeff Walz’ Louisville and Kim Mulkey’s Baylor. But after choosing a career at Louisville, she’s now getting the chance to rewind the clock and imagine a career with Mulkey. Just this time, it’s in the Bayou, as Van Lith announced Thursday she is transferring to LSU.

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Since 2019, a lot has happened. Van Lith spent three successful seasons at Louisville, while Mulkey moved to LSU in late 2020. And in just two seasons, LSU were crowned national champions in 2023. And mere days later, Van Lith announces she’d put her name in the portal — a shock even in the transfer madness era.

ESPN’s No. 1 ranked portal dweller entered the portal as a grad transfer with a “do not contact” tag, often designating she had already made her decision. On April 18, reports revealed Van Lith was visiting Baton Rouge. And on Thursday, Van Lith announced the somewhat inevitable: the Viking Princess in an LSU jersey.

Based on her past connection with Mulkey and LSU’s recent draft loss of point guard Alexis Morris, it seems the 5’7 point guard will fit in nicely.

LSU needs someone to run their offense, and Van Lith is more than capable of handling the job. With inside help from double-double machine Angel Reese and the potential in guard Flau’jae Johnson, alongside some high-profile incoming freshmen, Van Lith will bring the shooting needed alongside solid facilitation. Van Lith averaged 19.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game last season.

Beyond the X’s and O’s, Van Lith will fit nicely personality-wise with her new team. LSU is known for its ultra-competitive spirit, with their drive and confidence willing them to a Championship, and Van Lith is only an extension of that mindset.

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In addition, LSU has made a significant investment in NIL, with a designated NIL manager and players like Reese having 15+ deals. Van Lith herself is one of the highest earners in the NIL era.

And although Van Lith’s move to LSU makes sense for a variety of reasons, and may prove extremely dynamic alongside Reese, it raises questions about her future. Four-time coaching champion Mulkey is a proven winner on the collegiate level, but her style is less pro-centric. Van Lith has two years of eligibility remaining and will inevitably leave college as part of some of the most competitive draft classes in WNBA history, so how her game develops will be hugely important.

But if this season is anything like last season, with transfer Reese transforming LSU into a championship squad, LSU could be seriously dangerous.

Written by Gabriella Lewis

Gabriella is The Next's Atlanta Dream and SEC beat reporter. She is a Bay Area native currently studying at Emory University.

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