June 13, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Process, playing overseas and pivoting with Kianna Smith

Kianna Smith: "We want to be recognized for how hard we work, the talent that we produce on the floor, just the same way that any other sport is"

On today’s episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, host Gigi Speer is joined by women’s basketball pro Kianna Smith to talk about her experiences in the WNBA, playing overseas and navigating the pivot to sports media. Smith recently finished a season in the WKBL, the South Korean women’s basketball league, and is currently co-hosting the She’s Always On podcast.

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First, Smith and Speer talked about how it feels to be covering the WNBA during this most recent period of growth, and what their hopes for future coverage are.

“I think the big thing around the WNBA right now is that we need to cover the WNBA for what it is, and that is just the amazing athletes, how great [and] talented they are,” Smith said. “I know people are like, ‘This is the publicity you guys wanted, you guys wanted eyes, here you go.’ But you know, we want to be recognized for how hard we work, the talent that we produce on the floor, just the same way that any other sport is consumed. So I hope that the WNBA can be consumed that way in the coming future.”

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Then they talked about Smith’s experience at Louisville, and her approach to “getting in the zone” for particularly important or stressful games.

“I think as an athlete, your adrenaline takes over a little bit,” Smith explained. “Like at Louisville, I sat out my whole first year. And then I was so excited about that first game … I’m like, let’s go, I’m ready. And then I get COVID. So I’m crying, I’m like, ‘What the hell, this sucks.’ Obviously, around that time, like COVID was really big deal … and I’m dribbling in the quarantine room, I have to be ready because the [Louisville game against DePaul] was on ESPN, I’m not going to embarrass myself. So we show up for that game, and the first possession, I get it and I shoot an air ball over the basketball hoop. And it’s funny because my mom tells the story, she had the game on in her work office and I shoot an air ball, and she’s like, ‘Turn it off, everyone get back to work!'”

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“I think that adrenaline just takes over, like that excitement,” she continued. “And when you have those moments of just like, ‘I’m so ready to play,’ you’re just in that zone, in a flow where you don’t even think about anything. It’s just basketball, it’s all the preparation that you put in up to that point just comes out onto the floor. So I think that’s really what takes over in those moments.”

Tune in to hear more from Smith and Speer about Smith’s experience being drafted into the WNBA, playing 3×3 and overseas basketball, and more. Make sure to subscribe to the Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast to keep learning about the WNBA, women’s college basketball, basketball history and much more!

Written by The Next

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