Epiphanny Prince Returns To The States

You might be wondering why I am posting about the WNBA, but with their draft quickly approaching, I was asked to cover the event next Thursday here (focusing on some New Jersey related prospects) and on my other site, NBAPlaybook.  Here is a little primer.

Epiphanny Prince has been making news since here senior year in high school when she scored 113 points in a game.  However, last year Prince was making news not for her play on the court, but for a decision off of it.  Last year, Prince decided to skip her senior season at Rutgers University to go pro and play overseas.  Her decision was sparked by the strict WNBA rules that where a player must turn 22 during the year they are drafted, graduate from college or see their class matriculate during the three-month period following the draft. Or the player must be out of high school for four years if they want to be eligible for the draft.

It has happened before Schuye LaRue left Virginia after her sophomore year in 2001 to go play abroad before getting drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2003.  So why the big deal this time?  Well, Prince is a special talent.  In a conference call, Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx had this to say about Prince:

“I think Prince is the cream of the crop for the guard class. She can go as high as three, as low as four. She has separated herself from other talent, she knows how to score and has that “it” factor.”

Now with the draft just a week away, Prince participated in a conference call yesterday and answered some questions.  As you may expect, a lot of them had to do with the decision she made last year:

“The decision was definitely hard and coach (Vivian) Stringer was always a second mom to me. It was something that my family thought it would be the best for me, especially to mature more. When I went overseas I started playing against the best in the WNBA and it was a great experience to play against them. That’s when I knew it was the right choice for me.”

With that being said, Prince is excited to return to the States:

“It means a lot to be able to go home and play in front of family and friends to show them how much I’ve grown as a player and a person. I think the biggest difference you’ll see is me knowing when to pick my poison – knowing when to score and when to get everyone involved, knowing how to run the team better.”

While many saw this as a chance for Prince to get paid for her talent, the experts seems to have seen this as a chance to grow as a player.  Here is Carolyn Peck’s take:

“I was just reading some articles today and some quotes that Epiphanny made about her decision to go pro and the experience that she has, and being a point guard and at Rutgers, she was required and relied on a lot to produce a lot of points and in the pros. If she’s going to play a point guard position, she’s also going to have to distribute and get some experience of understanding when she needs to be the scorer and when she needs t be the distributor. From the comments she made in some articles I think it has been an opportunity for her to learn that. She’s played against some pro international players now and that experience definitely would help her. I can see out of sight, maybe out of mind, but not a player like Epiphanny Prince. She’s such a talent, and with what she was able to do as a college player, you couple that with the experience she’s getting as a professional player, I think just raises her stock.”

Here is Rebecca Lobo’s thoughts on it:

“Epiphanny is in a unique situation. I don’t think a lot of players could have done what she did and be successful overseas, gotten the type of money that would have made it worth while. You see her as a top four pick in this draft if she had stayed and played at Rutgers this year and had a gang-buster year, maybe she moves up two spaces to number two so it’s not that big of a difference. I definitely don’t think it hurt her draft status at all, I think it in some people’s eyes, she is more pro-ready now after playing a full year overseas against pros, managing the lifestyle and all of that. So, I think it was for her the right decision and not one that has negatively impacted her draft status.”