Throughout her heralded UConn career, Kelly Faris was called a “glue” player by those who admired the way she kept things together for the Huskies’ eighth national champion.
Appropriately enough, the characterization has stuck to her as a budding professional, like an actress with and a character after the role of a lifetime.
The respect held Faris in high esteem Monday as the WNBA’s 12 teams prepared for the 2013 draft. But it also caused concern she’d be drafted by a team ill-equipped to best utilize her unique ability.
That’s not how the Connecticut Sun view themselves. And that’s why they selected Faris with the 11th pick of the first round.
“We were pleased that Kelly was available,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “She will bring a high basketball IQ with her. She is a great defender and she brings all of the intangible qualities you look for in a young professional.”
Faris ended her career just the second player in UConn history to accumulate at least 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 500 assists and 250 rebounds. The other was Maya Moore, UConn’s only four-time All-American.
And Faris accomplished obscured in a national shadow, never chosen as an All-American let alone to a Big East Conference first team. But UConn coach Geno Auriemma knows the truth.
“Was she was a great passer, a great shooter or a great ball handler?,” Auriemma said. “For Kelly, it’s more … Kelly is great at putting you in a position to win. That’s what she’s great at. So when she leaves Connecticut and people ask me, you know, ‘Who’s one of the best players you’ve ever had at Connecticut, and I say, Kelly Faris. They’ll say, Why? She was great at making sure we were in position to win every night.”
Faris, the Big East’s defensive player of the year, improved her draft stock with her improved shooting touch. Not only did she shoot 53 percent from the field, but she made 41.5 percent of her three-pointers, including four in the national championship game against Louisville.
Her assist-turnover ratio, which led the nation for a great part of the season, was stellar (156 assists, 74 turnovers) and see led UConn with 96 assists.
Still, despite all this, Faris is not considered a sure-fire WNBA starter because she hasn’t been able to score easily or abundantly enough to convince scouts she is worthy of 30 minutes a game.
And like Notre Dame’s Natalie Novosel, a very similar player drafted eighth overall last season by woeful Washington, being in the wrong situation could have potentially harmful to her Faris’ career.
Novosel played barely played 10 minutes a game for the Mystics and scored in double-figures just once (12 points) with 31 games for a 5-29 team.