The Washington Mystics flexed their muscles early in the W season, starting 2-0 in their next game against the equally undefeated Las Vegas Aces.
Natasha Cloud absolutely crazy Against the Bobcats and continuing the offensive aggression she showed in Athletes Unlimited. Elena Delle Donne is back in full health. Alysha Clark is stepping up after recovering from a foot injury. This Mystics team looks primed for a great season.
The rookie and third overall pick in the 2022 W Draft made an immediate impression. After running 12 minutes in Game 1 against Fever, Austin started the game against the Bobcats.
She played well, racking up a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds) while troubling Minnesota’s frontcourt on both ends with her length and energy. Watching the rookie face off against future Hall of Famer Sylvia Foles for much of the night was ecstatic, giving us a glimpse into the future of the league’s five. Syl is Syl, so she makes her presence felt, but Austin approaches the game the same way she does everything, confident and competitive. Austin didn’t care at the moment.
I sat down and talked to Shakira (South Africa) Yesterday (5/9) and really getting to know her as a person, her W journey, her goals, and more really showed who she is as a person. (Including slandering me for wearing black Air Force!)
This interview has been shortened for brevity:
“I definitely have a lot of confidence and I think that game allowed me to show and get this platform to show everybody what I can do,” Austin said. “I came here with the mentality that I came here to compete. I tried to dress the rookies and show that we should be here too. I watched the movie, the whole team, and I just felt like I was ready. Come in. At the end, I felt like my defense and rebounding would help me dominate, but you know, I haven’t opened up my offense. It’s exciting for me.”
MS: You show a lot of offense after receiving the ball, are you trying to work more head-on as the season goes on?
Sarah: “I think that’s my game, the team doesn’t necessarily need my offense right now. So I’m really just cruising all the time. But, it’s definitely something in my bag right now. I’m just not going to force anything, or, You know, 12-15 shot attempts, you know, it’s not necessary. So I’m just going to be aggressive. But obviously I’m still trying to do all the things I want to do.”
MS: Coming from the draft into training camp, what was the conversation with Coach Tebow and the staff like? Discuss your role on the team and development, you’re definitely not the same as most rookies who choose the third overall pick.
Sarah: “Like you said, other rookies are coming into the program and they’ve got the green light, you know, I feel like me, this situation has me really just being efficient and focusing on the key details I think a rookie, you just Can learn to be around a lot of veterans. I think it’s an opportunity, I’m around Delle Donne, Tash (Natasha Cloud), A (Ariel Atkins), and everyone is able to put me under their wings. I feel like I have The best opportunity to really expand and really open my wings to grow.”
MS: You mentioned in an interview last year that Elena Delle Donne was your favorite player! What was it like to be on the same practice range from two or three months ago to pre-season?
Sarah: “It’s so exciting! To this day, you know, we’ve been together for a few weeks, but just in the game, watching her, I’m amazed. Just trying to absorb and absorb as much as possible. And, you You know, she’s done a great job talking to me, you know, really just putting the knowledge into me and motivating me, so, I’m really excited to see what we can do together.”
MS: Looking back, you played your last game at Ole Miss on March 18, and you just played your second game in the league. This transformation has to be an absolute whirlwind.
Sarah: “It’s definitely something I don’t think they talk about enough. You know, the transition from draft weekend, I was told training camp was going to be in a week or so, but I actually came back from the draft on Tuesday morning. Home, I had to leave on Wednesday. I mean, it’s definitely been a tough balance between balancing school and trying to finish my actual graduation and getting ready for the big games. I feel like there should be something to help us get through Take this time and try to balance it out because I really feel like they just pushed everybody out there. It’s like “Okay, now you’re in the league. So, you know, do what you have to do. “It’s harder for the rookies because, you know, half of us didn’t get on the team anyway. So, I mean, they’re juggling, you know, and then they waste some time and have to go back Graduating. But, I mean, I’m lucky, I’m graduating, so I feel, you know, really, really happy. And, you know, I’ve made it. So, you know, to God Shout.”
MS: I remember reading that you will be the first member of your family to graduate from college, so congratulations! I know through your IG that you are good at cooking and you mentioned before that you would like to open a restaurant someday. What kind of food? Are you an executive chef? I need details here!
Sarah: “I want to have my own farm. I think that’s the first step, I want to grow my own produce. One of my sisters, she’s actually a veterinarian. We’re trying to figure this whole thing out so she can handle it The animal part and I can do everything else. Opening a restaurant has always been something I wanted to do. My family, I grew up watching them cook in the kitchen. So my sister went to culinary school and it was just us Things to start talking about, I think now that I’m in the situation I’m in, it’s really putting it all together. I feel like it’s definitely something I can do. I’m not sure yet what type of food I’m going to make. I Like a lot of different genres. But, you know, we’re working on it!”
MS: If you could cook a meal right now, like your signature dish, what would you be doing?
Sarah: “I would choose stuffed salmon, macaroni and cheese. So stuff with cream cheese, spinach, shrimp, crab, etc.”
MS: This is the result of not eating until I answer the phone, did you grow up watching Food Network? What’s your favorite show?
Sarah: “Oh my gosh, chop. I want to make my own little pieces with my family and we’ll randomly pick some ingredients and figure out what we can do. But yeah, I just love Food Network .”
MS: Who is the worst chef on the team?
Sarah: “Worst chef on the team??? Oh, I’m going with Myisha (Hines-Allen).
MS: Have you seen her cook before? Or what to sell? (She made the funniest look ever when I asked the man) Oh, that face says it all!
Sarah: “Haha, I mean, it’s just that she keeps asking! She’s the kind of ‘what time do you cook? When do you cook? “
MS: Growing up in the DMV area, what was it like to be back in the Washington area and be close to your family again?
Sarah: “I just feel lucky. If I go to a random restaurant and people recognize me, I just feel like it’s my best chance to actually do something that I want to do. I feel like just playing for DC would get me Do it. You know, a lot of people in this area look up to me from, you know, playing at Boo Williams in Virginia to graduating from the Riverdale Baptist. I feel like there’s so much I can do and influence people … so I’m really excited.”
MS: You have a lot of personality and aura that was evident even when you were in college. Are you affected by the DMV area? Where does your charm really come from?
Sarah: “Yeah, definitely the DMV energy! I wouldn’t say anyone affected me in particular. I think I’m 6’5″, I mean, I was six feet tall when I was a kid, I really just had to learn how to grow For who I want to be. Just wondering how to be confident. I feel like, this is, you know, this is how it goes, you know, I’m not always loud. I’m usually quiet and reserved, just need to A lot of confidence and believing in myself to really find who I really want to be and who I am confident in, and that just translates to who I am now.”
MS: Have you ever signed a shoe contract? I know you haven’t before the draft!
Sarah: “I’m at Nike! I’m the only rookie they signed.”
(Her smirk is hilarious)
Lady: Great! What’s your favorite pair of shoes right now?
Sarah: “Oh Kobe, you can’t be with Kobe’s guys!! Game 1, I had to take out Kobe’s, they were so comfortable.”
MS: What about off the field?
Sarah: “SB Dunks, waffles. I like low tops because of high tops, I mean you have to wear pants and then you can’t wear socks because that looks old fashioned.”
MS: Thoughts on the Black Air Force One?
Sarah: “You wear black AF1’s?? I’m not gonna lie Mark, I don’t know if I can trust you bro. I mean if that’s your style, that’s your style… but don’t wear them here !!”
MS: Okay, please pay attention! So the last thing I really want to play, what are your career goals? What do you really hope to accomplish this season and move on?
Sarah: “I definitely have a lot of goals off the court, but I want to be the best. There’s nothing else. I really think people who are successful in the league right now, they look like me and I feel like I can be better than them. I’m just going to keep working. I’m not going to get a big head. I’m not going to say I’m arrogant. I’m absolutely confident, I’ve said a lot. But, at the end of the day, I still know there’s a lot of work to be done. I know my ceilings are pretty high. “This year, I still have high goals for myself. I’m not going to put it all out there because you might think I’m crazy, but I just said a lot of things that exist. You know, yesterday people asked me about Race things like “Oh, well, you know, what are you telling yourself? “I mean, I just told myself, I’m going to dominate. You know, my goal this year is to show everyone that no matter how old I am, I’m one of the best players.”
MS: Go back and look at your game at Ole Miss, you have a lot of offense that you don’t have to show off yet. What do you think is your next step and your development as a player?
Sarah: “I think if I lock my 3-pointer, no one can deal with me. I have to face it. I have my back down. I have the handle. I have the mid-range jumper. So it’s like, if my 3-pointer The ball stays steady, I mean, I’m going to feel like Kevin Durant.”
MS: Another DMV saga. You didn’t shoot a lot of 3-pointers in college, was that something you worked on in practice?
Sarah: “Not a lot in this kind of practice, but when I’m playing pickups and stuff like I’m cashing out. I’m going off screen. I like to just do everything so just translate them, but I’ll be patient wait.”
MS: Great, I’m excited to see how you continue to develop. Thank you so much for your time and best of luck against the Aces tomorrow!
Shakira is an absolute delight! If you haven’t already, be sure to follow her on Twitter (@Theylove_kira) and IG (@curlyhead_kira). As the season continues, we will provide more editions of the Rookie Report every few weeks!
Newly hired WNBA reporter Mark Schindler has written a column on WNBA.com throughout the season and can be reached on Twitter at @MG_Schindler. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.