It began with a text close to midnight Monday from head coach Jim Foster. That was followed shortly by a phone call.
Following the WNBA Draft Monday night, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Taylor Hall (New Tazewell, Tenn.) received an invitation from the Seattle Storm to participate in training camp and fight for a spot on the 2014 roster.
“It’s hard to put into words the opportunity that has presented itself,” Hall said. “It’s hard to pass up something like this regardless of what my other plans were for after graduation. Hopefully I can take advantage of it.”
The opportunity came about with a little help from Foster who is currently in New Zealand as part of his duties with USA Basketball.
“I talked with both [assistant coach] Jenn [Boucek] and [head coach] Brian [Agler] within the last few weeks and gave them my thoughts on Taylor.
“Her talent translates to the next level because of her versatility. When you have a short roster of players who can play more than one position, they become even more valuable.”
In her time with Chattanooga, Hall experienced many challenges. Her freshman year started a little behind as she joined the team after the first semester. After her junior year, she learned that there would be a new coach to lead the program. As a senior, her role on the team changed with the new offense.
“Having two coaches with different coaching styles makes you more rounded as a player with different expectations from different people,” Hall said. “You have to adjust to what they want.”
Hall adjusted well and scored 495 points this season. She topped the 1,000-point career mark and has more than 800 rebounds. She ranks among the best on her team, in the Southern Conference and against the rest of the NCAA Division I programs.
Hall posted 14 double-doubles this season and became the first player in Southern Conference history to be named the league’s Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and SoCon Tournament MVP.
Hall will report to training camp on April 27 at Seattle Pacific University. She is up against current players, draftees and other training camp invitees for one of 14 spots on the roster.
“It takes me back to the AAU days when we were trying to get recruited to the college level,” I’ve been in that situation before, of course, on a lower level then. You have to compete every day and just do the things that you’ve been doing your whole life. It’s effort and doing the little things and doing the things that you can control.
Hall becomes the third UTC player to receive a look from a WNBA team. In 2008, Alex Anderson (2004-08) was selected in the third round (39th overall pick) by the San Antonio Silver Stars. While she did not make the team she is currently playing for a championship in Finland for the Catz. Laura Hall (2004-08) received a look from the Connecticut Sun with a training camp invitation.
“It’s terrific that a player from Chattanooga gets an opportunity to play,” Foster said. “There’s 140-something jobs available in the league and players from around the world are competing for them. It’s a great opportunity for her and great for the program.”
Seattle drafted 6-foot-4 Michelle Plouffe (Utah) and Mikaela Ruef (Stanford) and acquired Crystal Langhorne from the Washington Mystics in a trade that included seventh overall pick in this year’s draft Bria Hartley (UConn) and second-year forward Tianna Hawkins.