Erin Thorn is not going to be like the girl from Kansas, doe-eyed, confused and intimidated by New York City as a rookie WNBA player from Orem.

Sure, she's going to give up her summer trips to Lake Powell and hanging out during the dog days of June and July in Utah but, by heck, the former Mountain View High and BYU star is a professional basketball player. Who could ask for more?

As a matter of preference, I don't like watching the WNBA. But Thorn is one reason — and the very best I know of — to tune in and watch some games this summer.

Erin Thorn is the real deal.

Thorn deserves playing beyond her college career. She is an outstanding role model. May she run into tons of fun and take her game through the WNBA arenas for as long as the NBA keeps that league afloat — about three more seasons.

"It's just awesome to get paid for playing a sport," Thorn said from her hotel suite via telephone on Friday.

Thorn, the No. 16 overall pick in the WNBA draft, made the final roster of the New York Liberty this week. The team kept Thorn instead of two other guards selected including first-round pick Molly Creamer from Bucknell who is a native New Jerseyite.

Thorn, a consummate student of the game, can toss it in the hoop with the best of them — male or female — but it was her leadership, intelligence and knowledge of the game that pushed the Liberty to keeping the popular Utahn. She is one of the hardest working athletes I've ever seen.

During three weeks of training camp, Thorn played all five positions. Coaches threw new plays at the draftees and it was Thorn who caught on the quickest, internalized the plays, then memorized how it applied to everybody on the floor.

Typical Thorn, the most prolific three-point shooter in BYU women's basketball history. She only needed a chance.

Joining Thorn on the Liberty roster are MWC stars Becky Hammon from Colorado State and UNLV's Linda Frohlich. The Liberty opens up against Cleveland on May 31.

Thorn is soaking up the experience. She's receiving money that would likely equal more than most people make in a year and she will only play four months.

Her challenge is to just remain calm and deal out her own game. "That's the advice given to me by Ally Bills (BYU assistant coach), who has been to a WNBA training camp. "She told me not to try to do anything I'm not used to doing, to just do what I do best."

For Thorn, that includes making open shots, protecting the ball and doing what she's ordered to. That epitomizes Thorn, according to those who've followed her career.

One of those people is Orem lawyer and businessman Keven Stratton. But you could get the same from Mountain View's David Houle or BYU coach Jeff Judkins.

"The Erin Thorn story is one of hard work, dedication to a purpose, realizing goals and overcoming hurdles. She is the real deal, full of confidence and humility," Stratton said.

When Liberty officials posted their roster, Thorn was stunned. She came to training camp expecting to do her best, but she was very impressed with the two other guards drafted. When told she made it and the others didn't, she said, "I was shocked that Creamer didn't make it and I did."

The first person Thorn called was her mother, Jody. "She was excited, but I don't think she even realized how hard it was to make the roster. It was tough," Thorn said.

Thorn, you could say, is lucky, rewarded and in the process of being fulfilled.

That's how you can paint Erin Thorn — a great reason, the best I know of — to tune into women's professional basketball.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com