In case you haven’t heard, UConn sensation and top WNBA Draft pick Maya Moore is the first female basketball player to sign with Jordan Brand. Moore, who was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx, has been a standout since she was a teenager, winning three state championships at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga. At UConn, she led the Huskies to two national championships, receiving the John Wooden Award and many other national awards for her accomplishments on and off the court.
In the midst of Moore’s well-deserved hype, STACK wanted to reiterate the components of her game and character, which account for much of her success as an athlete.
If you think you’re working hard and you dream of going pro, you might want to reevaluate. “When I came here, I thought I was working hard, but compared to the level that Maya worked, it was nothing,” says Connecticut teammate Stefanie Dolson. TV analyst Debbie Antonelli remarked, “We all talk about shooters being in the zone, but [Moore's] work ethic is in the zone.”
And that was just on the court. Moore’s effort in the classroom gained her three Academic All-American awards, and she graduated from UConn with honors.
In the preseason of Moore’s sophomore year, UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph assigned each guard a certain number of shots to take per week. Moore answered Shea back with a text breaking down her shots—percentages made from seven feet, 15 feet, the three-point line and off the dribble. Moore’s text also informed Ralph of her targeted goal percentages [without defense]. She wasn’t instructed to do this; her demand for improvement—and diligence to do so—came from her own desires.
Questioned about her readiness for and transition to a professional league, the 21-year old said, “I know how to win. I know how to compete. That is the best thing I can bring in right now, just a competitive spirit."
Raising the Bar for Teammates
While her own development as a player came first, Moore’s teammates’ growth was a close second. She says, “You have to be invested in your teammates, making people feel like they're valuable, encouraging them and giving them confidence to be at their best.” Whether you’re a natural leader like Moore or an underdog at the end of the bench, challenging others to match or surpass your own commitment can make a huge difference.
In a recent video, Moore is described as “prideful.” This signifies elation, joy and satisfaction, but it can also mean haughty or feeling superior. In Moore's case, both are true on the court. It’s not just her competitive nature that drives her game, but her incredible self-belief, self-respect and, well, pride—not arrogance.
Student of the Game
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeves says, "Maya, more than anything, is just a great sponge, and she will come back tomorrow and be very determined to be better.”
Sources: startribune.com, espnw, si.com