ND Women’s Basketball
Greason: Please stop asking Jackie Young about the WNBA
Elizabeth Greason | Saturday, April 6, 2019
TAMPA, Fla. — Please stop asking Jackie Young what she’s planning on doing in 48 hours.
The junior is the lone remaining active player in women’s college basketball who might declare for the WNBA Draft, which takes place Wednesday, as the deadline to declare has long since passed, with the only exception being players whose teams are in the Final Four. All five Irish starters are slated to be drafted — that is, if Young makes the decision to forgo her final year of eligibility and enter the draft a year early, where she will likely be a top-10 or even a top-five pick.
After Oregon lost Friday, Ducks junior guard and predicted No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu is faced with the same decision — to stay or to go. But with Ionescu knocked out, Young is the only WNBA-caliber, non-senior left in the tournament. So when the tournament comes to the end Sunday, win or lose, Young will have 24 hours to make up her mind about her future.
But let’s not forget — there are still more than 24 hours between now and that decision for Young and the Irish. And those 24 hours are some of the most important of the 6-foot guard’s life.
During Saturday’s media breakout sessions with Notre Dame’s starters, Young was berated with questions about how much she had thought about her decision, what she had done this season to make her game more appealing for scouts and how many more credits she has to earn before receiving her diploma. Her teammates were pounded with questions about whether Young would benefit from another year at school.
But lost in the mix of these questions, at least for many of those talking with Young on Saturday, was the fact that, in 28 short hours from when they sat in front of her small dais, she would be taking the court to compete for a second-straight national championship.
While Young and her teammates deflected their barrage of WNBA questions like professionals, the bottom line is that there shouldn’t have been any such questions to begin with. We’re all here to watch the two best teams in college basketball compete for a national championship. Let the WNBA hype wait until Monday morning. We can all wait that long.
Whether or not Young knows what she is planning on doing after Sunday’s game, she knows better than to tip her hand to the media earlier than she wants to. Those questions aren’t going to yield any results from her.
There are only three teams in history that have gone back-to-back. Notre Dame (35-3, 14-2 ACC) is looking to become the fourth Sunday. That is a tall task in and of itself. But when you add to that that the Irish are playing No. 1 overall seed Baylor with 6-foot-7 center Kalani Brown and 6-foot-4 forward Lauren Cox, that task becomes even taller. Baylor has a deeper bench than any other Final Four team and head coach Kim Mulkey is a force to be reckoned with — she’s no Muffet McGraw, but she’s certainly proven herself.
If the Irish are going to defeat the Lady Bears (36-1, 18-0 Big 12), each and every member of their team needs to be fully zeroed in for a full 40 minutes — none of this second-half team business or fourth-quarter magic. And in order for that to happen, we all need to ease up on Jackie Young. Leave her alone. Let her focus on the task at hand: winning another national championship.
Badger her with all the questions you want about how she thinks she will match up with Juicy Landrum and DiDi Richards, how this Final Four compares to last season’s, how excited she is to play for another national title, what it would mean to her to go back-to-back. Honestly, if you want to know if she thinks Kim Mulkey or Lisa Rinna wore it better, go for it. But leave for the WNBA questions for another day.
The Princeton, Ind. native has enough stress in her life right now. She doesn’t need to be reminded of the life-changing and incredibly difficult decision she has looming in front of her. Let her pay attention to one life-altering event at a time.
She’s here to play basketball. So let her focus on the task at hand.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.