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What becky hammond‘s prolific college basketball career was drawing to a close, a starter in the Denver Post proclaimed that “No one will ever underestimate Colorado State’s Becky Hammon again.”

A nice thought, but unfortunately. Two months after that starter, Hammon would go undrafted in the 1999 WNBA Draft. And that certainly wasn’t the first time, nor the last, that Hammon would go undrafted.

“I am disappointed, but the battle is not over,” Hammon told the Fort Collins Colorado after the WNBA Draft. “It’s not going to end up being a sad story.”

it did not


Hammon, who grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota, wasn’t recruited long after high school.

tom collenthen an assistant coach in Arkansas, said that after watching Hammon compete at a camp in Terre Haute, Indiana, she wrote three words next to her name: average white girl.

“I made the same mistake that a lot of other top 20 programs have made,” said Collen, who later became the head coach at Colorado State, when Denver Post in 1999. “I underestimated the kind of potential she had and didn’t recruit her. I saw her, but I didn’t think she was good enough to put her on my list. There were a lot of coaches who felt that way.”

Hammon eventually found a home in the state of Colorado. But even after arriving at a college that loved her, she Hammon was not initially chosen. She spent the first seven games coming off the bench before earning a starting job. She went on to finish the season as the highest scoring freshman in the nation (19.2 points per game), and more importantly, help Colorado State qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. .

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In the first round of the NCAA tournament, the CSU Rams faced Nebraska, a program Hammon had attended for summer programs.

“Us recruited her, but we didn’t scholarship her, so I’m sure she’ll have extra motivation for that,” the Nebraska head coach said. Angela Beck said to Omaha World Herald before the game, which CSU won 66-62.

Hammon led Colorado State to two more NCAA tournament appearances, and the Rams reached the Sweet 16 in his senior year. But even as the three-time All-American wrapped up her college career as the most decorated player in the show’s history, she knew some people still wrote her off.

“There are a lot of people who still don’t think I deserve to have my name where it is,” Hammon said in 1999. “They don’t think I deserve to be a AllAmerican. I know that. It’s okay. It’s the same with our team. People don’t think we should be fourth. That’s how it will have to be, coming from the (Western Athletic Conference).

“When you come from a small conference, you have to climb hills. It’s a constant battle to get up, get up, get up. You have to like it. You have to like people who say you can’t do something. That has always been my philosophy.”


While WNBA prospects always face great odds, the 1999 WNBA Draft was particularly brutal. The college players competed with players from the American Basketball League (ABL), which folded in December 1998. Of the 50 selections in that year’s draft, 35 came from the ABL.

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“The same thing happened to me in college,” Hammon told the Fort Collins Colorado after she was not recruited. “I wasn’t very recruited, but I proved them wrong. I can do the same thing in the WNBA.”

A week after going undrafted, Hammon received a call from the New York Liberty inviting her to participate in boot camp. She moved up her kinesiology final by a day to accommodate the invitation.

So the New York Liberty coach Richie Dubato he later admitted that he never expected to keep Hammon on the roster, as the team already had two point guards in Theresa Witherspoon Y coke washington.

“We thought two point guards are enough, but she impressed us so much with her shooting and her toughness that we had to keep her,” Adubato told the Associated Press in August 1999. “Throughout training camp, she just kept getting better and better.”

Hammon said not being drafted served as a spark. “If anything, he put a little fire in my ass, and I just decided I was going to buckle down and I was going to make it in this league, whether it’s this year or a couple of years down the line.”

Hammon went on to play 16 seasons in the WNBA, finishing her career as one of the best players in league history. And although she made four trips to the WNBA Finals, she never won a title.

Along the way, he also overcame an Olympic snub. After learning that she had not been invited to attend the US Olympic team tryouts, she agreed to represent Russia, where she played during the WNBA offseason.

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I’ve always been on the outside looking in,” she said. “The unchosen child”.

He led Russia to bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, scoring a team-high 22 points in that medal game.


As the longtime assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Hammon was believed by many to become the first female head coach in the NBA. But the offers did not come.

Instead, the Aces called. And this time, they didn’t just choose Hammon. They courted her.

“I feel like I’m ready to have my own team. And this is the organization that made it very, very obvious that they loved me very, very much. And that’s why it’s always good to be loved,” Hammon said after she was hired.

Less than a year later, she led the Aces to the franchise’s first WNBA title, becoming the first rookie head coach to win a league championship.

“My trip is not by mistake,” Hammon said after Sunday’s win. “Every hard thing I’ve been through has built something in me that I’ve needed in the future, and while it sucks in the moment not being chosen or hurt or whatever, the hard stuff builds things in you that are
necessary for life and will use it in the future. It may not feel that way at the time.

“For me, it’s not really about proving other people wrong, it’s about proving myself right.”


Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC