June 15, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Why did Becky Hammon go undrafted in 1999?

WNBA Retrospect returns, with a focus on players who were undervalued as pro prospects

In the latest episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, Hunter Cruse, Em Adler and Lincoln Shafer bring back their WNBA Retrospect series for a second season! Last season reviewed game film, stats, news articles and more to determine who has been the best prospect in WNBA history, while this season focuses on prospects who, in hindsight, were undervalued.

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Episodes in Season 1 covered Tina Thompson, Ticha Penicheiro, Tamika Catchings, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, A’ja Wilson and many more elite players. Today’s focus is Becky Hammon, the former Colorado State point guard who went undrafted but played 16 seasons in the WNBA from 1999 through 2014. She is now the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces.

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As a senior at Colorado State in 1999, Hammon averaged 22.9 points, 4.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game. At 5’6, she shot 58.3% from 2-point range and 41.6% from 3-point range while taking 7.6 3-pointers per game. Adler talks about what those numbers suggest, before we get to the film:

“When you’re looking at her statistical profile … you’re like, Ah, this was some 5’11 ball-dominant wing in the mid-major [ranks] who was named to a bunch of All-American teams. And some of that is correct. She wasn’t 5’11. Sure as hell played like it.

“And I think a question you kind of have to answer when you look at the statistical profile is, how does someone who puts up these numbers and who appears to be able to do this go undrafted?”

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Cruse cites news articles from the time about Hammon’s pro prospects that raised concerns about her size, her pedigree at mid-major Colorado State and her speed. Adler responds to the speed and athleticism piece:

“it is impossible to watch Becky Hammon for more than like two plays and to see her as anything other than the most athletic player on the court. … Her lateral quickness was great, her ability to move her hips, shuffle, everything on offense. But specifically, her burst was clearly excellent. Her burst was probably better than any guard the WNBA had seen sort of who was entering their athletic prime at this point in time. (Sheryl Swoopes is already sort of in her prime a little bit later; Cynthia Cooper is in her late 30s.)”

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