January 6, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: What skills are innate versus teachable in WNBA draft prospects?

'[Fulwiley's] creativity and her dynamicism, I think, is the greatest thing I have ever seen'

In the latest episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, Hunter Cruse, Em Adler and Lincoln Shafer discuss which skills are teachable for WNBA prospects and which skills are simply innate. Em started thinking about this while watching two freshmen sensations, South Carolina guard MiLaysia Fulwiley and Notre Dame guard Hannah Hidalgo.

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Em proposes that the skills that aren’t teachable are the same ones many people view as impossible for artificial intelligence (AI) to replicate:

“The things that I think are the limits of AI, that we think are the limits of AI, are the ability: to have creativity, [have] true dynamicism and interpret entirely new situations in novel ways; to relate and communicate in the way that people do; to have emotion and sensation; to have a competitive drive; and to … follow heuristics. … These are the things that cannot be taught. These are the things that I think we would call X-factors [for prospects].”

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Em explains what X-factors set Fulwiley apart from the rest and helped prompt this exercise:

“As good as Hidalgo is offensively — and she is an excellent point guard — for me, the thing with Fulwiley is, her creativity and her dynamicism, I think, is the greatest thing I have ever seen in women’s hoops. … The smoothness of the creativity, of being able to go from wanting the shot to driving to these absolutely insane playmaking abilities that we’ve seen, it’s just the ability to do all that is something that we’ve never seen before, frankly, for me. And it drives an entire team in a way that just being an elite defender and an elite offensive player doesn’t unlock that extra level of complete unstoppability.”

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