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Her Killer Sidestep Is Clearing a Path to the W.N.B.A.

  • April 13, 2021

Scoring isn’t the only reason Guirantes’s name has shot up draft boards. Defensively, she’s a hawk, plucking passes and stripping ballhandlers. She’s also a bully down low, afraid of no one. “Oh, yeah, one thing I can tell you for sure,” Smith said. “She ain’t ducking no smoke. That’s a promise. She ain’t ducking no smoke.”

Despite standing six inches shorter than the 6-foot-5 Charli Collier of Texas, who some think could be drafted first over all, Guirantes recorded more blocks per game. She credits many of her defensive instincts to her time playing middle blocker in volleyball. “I think I have a good just I.Q. for the game to understand where people on offense are going, when they’re going to put the ball up,” she said. “I have good timing.”

The W.N.B.A.’s 2021 draft class isn’t heralded as a strong one, but an experienced scorer like the 5-foot-11 Guirantes could be an immediate-impact player for a contender. She’ll be up against the likes of Aari McDonald from Arizona, Dana Evans from Louisville and Rennia Davis from Tennessee to be the first guard taken off the board. Unlike those three, her team, a No. 6 seed in the N.C.A.A. tournament, was upset in the first round, by No. 11-seeded Brigham Young, 69-66. Fortunately for her, scouts have had five years to assess her talent.

“I don’t know if she’s separated herself,” said James Wade, head coach and general manager of the Chicago Sky. “I think when you talk about big guards, you can mention Davis in the same breath. I think it’s more of what you’re looking for and how they kind of fit into your team and the players that you have.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/13/sports/basketball/arella-guirantes-wnba-draft.html

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