July 8, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: What made Tina Thompson the WNBA’s first No. 1 overall draft pick?

Thompson had 'a truly unique skill set' in the mid-1990s at USC

There’s a new series at Locked on Women’s Basketball! Hunter Cruse and Em Adler introduce WNBA Retrospect, a series that will study old game film, news reports, stats and more to determine who has been the best prospect in the history of the WNBA.  

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The series begins, fittingly, with Tina Thompson, the first-ever No. 1 overall draft pick back in 1997. Here’s Hunter with an overview of Thompson’s game entering the draft:

“Thompson is the consensus No. 1 pick after an impressive four-year career at USC. The Inglewood, California, native posted averages of 22.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.9 steals in her final season at SoCal. She’s a natural four at 6’2, with the ability to rebound like a dominant post and shoot a little bit like a wing on the perimeter a truly unique skill set at the time.”

USC was able to get Em and Hunter some film of Thompson in her college days. Here are some of Hunter’s takeaways from that tape:

“She was super polished from what I saw. Post seals, she [was] really good on that. I thought she was also pretty quick for her skill set as well. In transition, she was pretty fast; [she] could get out in transition and score. I was really impressed with just her overall offensive approach … She plays bigger than her size. Not the greatest leaper in general, but I thought she uses space well [and has a] really nice jumper.”

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