Over the weekend, you may have noticed a new name in the WNBA headlines, as Sami Whitcomb burst onto the scene with a 22-point second half that included six 3-pointers, tying a WNBA record for triples in a half. Her big night was key in the Seattle Storm’s comeback victory over the visiting New York Liberty. But who is this newcomer?
The 28-year-old WNBA rookie is a California native who starred in college at the University of Washington, so joining the Storm was a bit of a homecoming for Whitcomb. After going undrafted in 2010, the 5-foot-10 guard hooked on with the Chicago Sky for training camp, but was cut before the season began.
From there, she’s had a truly worldly basketball experience, working as a video coordinator for the University of Washington, and playing professionally in Germany, then Australia, then Slovakia, and finally back in Australia, where last season she made the jump to superstar status. Via the Seattle Times:
Last season, she set a WNBL record with 652 points in 27 games. She averaged 24.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, while breaking her league record with 105 three-pointers.
Coming off that spectacular campaign with the Perth Lynx, Whitcomb decided to make the leap to the WNBA. It was a leap of faith, as Whitcomb was not guaranteed a roster spot in Seattle, but decided to come back to the States anyway, and, as we know now, ended up playing her way onto the Storm.
Of course, it’s one thing to simply make a roster; it’s another to tie a WNBA record in your third career game. Over the Storm’s first three games this season, Whitcomb played in just two of them, and scored only three points in less than 10 minutes on the floor. When Jenny Boucek called her number against the Liberty, however, Whitcomb was ready.
She checked in with 2:31 left in the third quarter, and by the time the buzzer sounded on the frame, she already had a trio of 3-pointers to her name. The sharp-shooting guard doubled her total in the fourth quarter, including a clutch shot with just under a minute to go that pushed Seattle’s lead from just one point up to four, and effectively sealed the victory.
The performance may not have been surprising to Boucek and the Storm, as they were running sets for her in the fourth quarter.
And Boucek noted she’s seen Whitcomb do this before. Via the Seattle Times:
“I’ve seen her do it in Australia,” Boucek said. “That’s why she’s here. I don’t know I’ve seen another player that can heat up the way she can. But she’s done it consistently overseas, but we know that’s in her here.”
But it was certainly nothing most people saw coming, including the WNBA itself, as the league still doesn’t even have Whitcomb’s stats up on her player page.
In case anyone thought the night Whitcomb had against the Liberty was a fluke, however, she went out and shot 3-4 from downtown in the Storm’s next game against the Fever — also a win, as the team moved to 4-1 through their first five games.
For the season, Whitcomb is now 10-16 from 3-point land, good for a league-leading 62.5 percent clip. Her 8.5 points per game are fourth on the Storm, and her strong shooting is one of the main reasons Seattle is currently third in the league in 3-point percentage at 39.8 percent, and second in the league in offensive rating at 108.9.
Sure, she probably won’t shoot over 60 percent from deep all season long, but if the Storm all of a sudden have an elite 3-point shooter to float around the perimeter and feast on open looks created by the attention the Big Three draws, their offense is only going to be more explosive.