Poughkeepsie native, Villanova star Maddy Siegrist declares for WNBA draft
Taking nothing for granted, Maddy Siegrist often spoke about professional basketball as a hypothetical, her comments always prefaced with “if…”
“If there’s a natural progression in my game, and if I got that opportunity,” she told the Journal in January, “I would love to hear my name called in April.”
The Poughkeepsie native had just broken the Villanova University career points record and was leading the NCAA in scoring. Still, in her estimation, the WNBA wasn’t a certainty for her.
But all she has done in the time since is break more records and put forth more eye-popping performances while elevating the Wildcats, earning the national spotlight that zeroed in.
Raising the bar: Maddy Siegrist breaks Villanova basketball all-time scoring record
Kicking it: Wappingers Falls' Dylan Sullivan signs pro contract with New York Red Bulls
It is clear that her game has progressed and, after leading the Villanova women's basketball team to its first Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2003, little remains that she hasn't already accomplished. The next step is making another of her childhood fantasies come true.
Siegrist on Monday declared for the WNBA draft, the senior forgoing an additional year of college eligibility to pursue a professional career.
"After a lot of thought and prayer, I have decided to enter the WNBA draft," she wrote in a statement posted to her social media. "This was not a decision I came to lightly."
The 6-foot-2 forward is projected to go fifth overall to the Dallas Wings, according to a recent ESPN mock draft. The April 10 draft will be televised at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
She follows in the recent footsteps of Dutchess County products Tyler Lydon and Elijah Hughes, both of whom starred at Syracuse University and became NBA draft picks.
Siegrist averaged 29.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks, and was named Big East Player of the Year for a second straight season. She shot 51% from the field and 36.1% from three, and set an NCAA record by scoring at least 20 points in each of the Wildcats' 37 games.
She turned heads last month with 50 points in a win over Seton Hall. It was the most points scored by anyone at the Division I level, male or female, this season. She totaled 2,896 points in four seasons at Villanova.
"The statistical numbers that she recorded are going to be there forever, which is so special when you see what Maddy accomplished throughout her amazing career," Villanova coach Denise Dillon said in a statement. "When you leave your mark on people, as Maddy has, there is nothing greater… Maddy will continue to impact the world in whatever she does."
The 22-year-old was the first Villanova women's basketball player to be selected an All-American by the Associated Press, and she's a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, awarded to the national Player of the Year.
Siegrist had 31 points, 13 rebounds and five steals in Villanova’s 70-65 loss to Miami last Friday. In a farewell statement to college hoops, she thanked her teammates, the coaches, administrators and fans for "welcoming me into the greatest community on Earth."
"I will be cheering for our 'Cats from wherever the next step in this journey takes me," she wrote.
Siegrist's length and shooting range, along with the coordination and ball-handling ability at that height, make her an intriguing prospect. She likely projects to the next level as a "stretch four," a power forward whose perimeter skills can create matchup challenges for opponents.
She dominated at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie and twice was named the Journal's Player of the Year, but her game took off at the collegiate level with the refinement of her outside shot.
She became a reliable 3-point shooter as a 12th-grader, complementing a strong post and mid-range repertoire, and that raised the ceiling of her potential significantly.
"A lot of it comes from the person she is," said Al Viani, her high school coach. "She's such a great kid and her work ethic is second to none. I haven't had another player who has improved as much each year. In every practice, every drill, she wanted to be the best; never took time off. That's rare in kids. I've been amazed myself at how she keeps finding ways to get to another level."
Stephen Haynes: email@example.com; 845-437-4826; Twitter: @StephenHaynes4
This article originally appeared on Poughkeepsie Journal: College basketball: Maddy Siegrist declares for WNBA draft