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BYU basketball: Five reasons WNBA teams should draft center Jennifer Hamson

Genetics
Genetics
BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick

Former BYU Cougars women’s basketball star Jennifer Hamson recently made the announcement that she will not play professional basketball this summer -- stunning everyone who knows anything about the 6-foot-7 giant.

Jennifer Hamson was projected by her own coach Jeff Judkins to go somewhere in the first round of the WNBA Draft on Monday, April 14 -- perhaps even in the Top 10. But now -- because she made her intentions public -- nobody seems to know where she’ll end up.

The reason? Hamson -- who averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and had 147 blocked shots -- was given the green light by BYU officials to not only play in the WNBA this summer but also retain her eligibility to play college volleyball.

Even so, Jennifer Hamson told them she wouldn’t play pro basketball this summer -- because she was committed to her first love, volleyball. Besides, the U.S. college camp begins in July and that opportunity to perhaps play for the national team in the Rio Olympics was too hard for her to pass up.

That said, if you’re a WNBA team, do you pass on a once-in-a-lifetime talent who has extraordinary height, talents and potential -- given that she only picked up a basketball a few short years ago? Here are five reasons why if you’re a WNBA team, you do not pass on BYU Cougar center Jennifer Hamson.

Genetics
Genetics BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick

Genetics

With her own mother having been the great BYU center Tresa Spaulding --who still holds numerous school records -- you would have to be stuck on stupid not to take Hamson.

While having a famous mom doesn’t necessarily make you a shoo-in to have a glorious pro career, it does help.

Work ethic
Work ethic BYU Photo/Marcos Escalona

Work ethic

Normally, if you look at a player as a pro scout the first thing you examine is their willingness to learn. Hamson did not start her BYU career with flying colors -- but she did improve year after year.

As a freshman she only averaged seven points and five boards. As a sophomore, her numbers improved to nine and six. Her junior year she got 12 and nine per game and she exploded her senior year -- averaging a double-double (18 and 12) while leading the nation in blocked shots.

Potential
Potential HMFR Photos/2011

Potential

If anybody questions Jennifer Hamson’s potential, you need only look at this WNBA Mock Draft -- which has Hamson going to Seattle at No. 19 overall in the second round.

That means a team is actually willing to look at a player who will not be playing in the pros this year but rather is selecting her for the 2015 season.

And, Hamson is still projected to be drafted higher than Utah’s Michelle Plouffe -- who will play this summer in the WNBA.

Defense
Defense BYU Photo/Marcos Escalona

Defense

Not only is Hamson a load inside to deal with -- just ask national champion Connecticut about her -- she also is an intimidating presence on defense.

Her 147 blocks ranks her first all-time in BYU women’s basketball history -- even more than her own mother. She also finished her college basketball career third all-time in rebounds with 965.

Free Throw Shooting
Free Throw Shooting BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick

Free Throw Shooting

In 242 trips to the foul line this season for BYU, Hamson made 71 percent of her free throws.

Considering the glut of pro centers -- namely Shaq -- who couldn’t have made a free throw if their life depended on it, Hamson’s ability to knock down a few from the charity stripe is a breath of fresh air for any WNBA team.

Above all else, Hamson simply has too many tools for every WNBA team to pass up -- and it’s why you’ll hear her name called on Monday.