How’s this for a “welcome to the pros” experience?
As former BYU women’s basketball star Paisley Harding has begun her professional hoops journey by being invited to training camp of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, she has been assigned a locker in between two of the most well-known women’s basketball players in the world.
Those players would be Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, who have combined to tally six WNBA championships, 15 All-Star appearances and seven team Olympic gold medals, with Bird also being the WNBA’s all-time assists leader and Stewart winning WNBA Finals MVP twice.
And there, right in the middle of them, is Harding, who signed a training camp contract last week in hopes of making the team.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Harding said in an interview provided by the Storm. “I mean, my locker’s right between the two of them, and it’s kind of intimidating walking to the locker room, but they’ve been nothing but nice and willing to help out, but it really is surreal being able to be in the same presence as them.”
“Just trying to learn as much as I can from them.”
Beside trying to get over being too starstruck, Harding said the early days of camp (it opened Sunday) are going well.
“I feel good,” she said. “There’s a lot of different concepts and different plays thrown at us, but that’s the type of basketball I like to play.
“I like knowing what’s going on, so just learning it, it’ll be a process, but it’s fun for me.”
Harding, who finished her career at BYU as the program’s all-time leader in games played and sixth in scoring, said her time in Provo certainly helped prepare her for this next step in her career.
“If you’re going to play at a high level, you have to know how to work hard, and I think college is the one step below this that kind of teaches you that,” she said.
“There’s a big step from college to the WNBA, but it’s just continually working hard, knowing and learning your concepts and just getting ready for it.”
An added bonus for Harding in this experience is that it’s taking place in Seattle, less than an hour away from where she grew up in Everett.
“It feels really nice,” she said. “I kind of feel like a hometown hero almost for the girls back in Everett. ... it’s really nice that I got to come back to Seattle and even be invited to a training camp.
“I feel really blessed to be able to do that.”