July 29, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Inside Chamique Holdsclaw’s greatness

'One of the most athletic guard/wing prospects that I've ever seen'

It’s time for another installment of our WNBA Retrospect series at Locked on Women’s Basketball! The series reviews old game film, news reports, stats and more to determine who has been the best prospect in the history of the WNBA. Last week, Hunter Cruse, Em Adler and Lincoln Shafer discussed the No. 2 overall pick in 1998, point guard Ticha Penicheiro. This week, Cruse talks to Winthrop head coach Semeka Randall Lay about Chamique Holdsclaw, Randall Lay’s former Tennessee teammate and the 1999 No. 1 overall pick.

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At Tennessee, Holdsclaw won three national championships and graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer (3,025 points) and rebounder (1,295) across women’s and men’s basketball. Here’s Randall Lay on what it was like to play with Holdsclaw and how Holdsclaw fit in the Tennessee offense:

“Playing with Chamique was an extraordinary experience … We knew that this was Chamique Holdsclaw’s team. So her ability to start our break, to — at that time, we ran a triangle offense, so getting her at that high post area, her or Tamika [Catchings], and letting them go to work where they were just deadly because they could face you up [or] they could post you up. And in particular, Chamique could do all those, and then she got crazy rebounds over you.”

Later in the episode, the co-hosts grade college-era Holdsclaw on the 20-80 scale they developed to evaluate WNBA prospects. Here’s Lincoln’s assessment:

“It’s a wild experience to watch Holdsclaw play in college. You just see this really long, super athletic wing wearing No. 23 and doing things that you very rarely see on a college basketball court. And she’s one of the most athletic guard/wing prospects that I’ve ever seen in terms of what a 20- or 21-year-old is doing on the court. She’s incredibly smooth moving with the ball in her hands and without the ball in her hands. And she’s a special athlete, and she is getting buckets at Tennessee. And because of that, I put her grade at a minimum 60 grade, which is projecting as a several-time All-Star, and at the higher end, maybe touching 70.”

After being drafted by the Washington Mystics in 1999, Holdsclaw spent the first six years of her career in Washington, and last season she was part of the Mystics’ inaugural Hall of Fame class. Over her 11-year WNBA career, Holdsclaw averaged 16.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game and was named an All-Star six times.

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