July 22, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Ticha Penicheiro, the intersection of highlight culture and statistical production

'This was the greatest passer of all time'

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 1998 No. 1 overall pickMargo Dydek. This week, they discuss the No. 2 pick in that draft, Old Dominion point guard Ticha Penicheiro.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

In her four years at Old Dominion, Penicheiro, a 5’11 guard from Portugal, recorded 1,304 points, 939 assists and 591 steals. She led her team to the 1997 NCAA championship game; was a two-time Kodak All-American; and became the first international player to win the Wade Trophy, a national player of the year award.

“The immediate conclusion I had within less than a quarter of watching Ticha,” Em says on the podcast, “was that this was the greatest passer of all time. And I’m not sure it’s particularly close. … She has one of the best floor games and just general basketball IQs I think I’ve ever seen.”

Later in the episode, the co-hosts grade college-era Penicheiro on the 20-80 scale they developed to evaluate WNBA prospects. Those numbers translate to: 20 — draftable; 30 — WNBA reserve; 40 — rotation-caliber; 45 — top-end backup; 50 — average starter; 55 — above-average starter; 60 — All-Star caliber; 70 — All-WNBA caliber; 80 — MVP candidate. Here’s Lincoln’s grade and reasoning:

“She’s an out-of-this-world passer of the basketball. The thing that stood out to me the most is her misdirection — using head fakes, hand fakes, throwing the ball where the defense and her both aren’t looking. But to me, the scoring is a problem. And I think I’d end up somewhere in the range of a 45 or a 50 … because she’s so obviously bringing a ton of value in certain areas and so obviously limited in other areas that are holding her back from reaching an MVP or all-league level of player.”

The Next and The Equalizer are teaming up

The Next is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribe to The Next now and receive 50% off your subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

Penicheiro went on to play 15 WNBA seasons, the first 12 for the team that drafted her, the Sacramento Monarchs. She averaged 6.1 points, 5.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. She was a four-time WNBA All-Star and was named one of the top 25 players in league history in 2021.

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!

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

Written by The Next

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.