By Seth Dahle
Small frame with a big-time game, Alexis Peterson is an unstoppable force at the point guard position. After putting the finishing touches on a brilliant collegiate career at Syracuse, Peterson now sets her eyes on a dream come true – the WNBA.
With the 15th pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm, the Seattle Storm found a gem in Peterson, the all-time assist leader for the Orange and first-ever ACC Player of the Year in program history.
“Alexis is a true point guard, she’s a strong playmaker and solid scoring guard that will fit well in Jenny Boucek’s system,” said Storm President & GM Alisha Valavanis. “We are excited to welcome Alexis to Seattle and to the Storm franchise.”
In four seasons at Syracuse, the 5-7 guard imprinted her legacy all over the record books. In addition to dishing out a school-record 590 assists, Peterson ranked second all-time in scoring (1,978), second in field goals made (677), second in free throws made (440), and third in steals (278).
Peterson exited Syracuse in style, averaging 23.4 points and seven assists her senior campaign on the way to being named the ACC Player of the Year. She scored a career-high and school-record 45 points in an 85-75 upset win over N.C. State on Jan. 12, as the Orange rallied from a 13-point deficit behind Peterson’s playmaking ability.
But that type of ‘do-your-job’ performance is standard for Peterson, who chalked up 25+ points in 18 games in 2016-17. She tallied 30 or more points on three occasions this past season, and she also logged seven games with double-figure assists.
Peterson said she plans on bringing that same mentality to contribute on the Storm.
“If they need me to score, if they need me to pass, I just want to find a role, learn their system and find a way I can make an impact,” said Peterson.
Perhaps a breakthrough moment for Peterson and Syracuse came in 2015-16, when the Orange mustered a furious run in the NCAA Tournament that ended in the title game against UCONN. She tossed in 29 points to lead the Orange past Tennessee in the Elite Eight, and she followed that up with a 16-point performance against Washington in the national semifinal. Despite coming up short to the Huskies, the campaign went down as the best season yet, and much of that success was due to Peterson.
“She’s been playing in the ACC, and she’s gone up against some pretty good competition,” said Valavanis. “She’s led her team, and these factors as she transitions into the WNBA are positives.”
Success at the college level didn’t come easy. As a freshman, Peterson saw action in only 395 minutes and averaged three points per game. But with a year under her belt, Peterson bounced back for a breakout sophomore season, as she averaged 16.2 points, 4.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals on the way to earning All-ACC Second Team and ACC All-Defensive Team honors.
Now, Peterson faces a new challenge in the WNBA and finds herself a home with the Seattle Storm. Alongside 15-year veteran and nine-time All-Star Sue Bird, Peterson will be in good hands as she makes her transition into the league as a point guard to be reckoned with.
“I’ve been watching her [Sue Bird] play for the longest time, and now for the opportunity to be able to learn from her and all of her knowledge and wisdom of the game is just a great opportunity,” said Peterson.
While over 2,740 miles separate Syracuse, N.Y., from Seattle, Peterson views the big jump as a positive.
“I’ve never been to Seattle, this will be my first time. So I think overall, it’s a good thing,” said Peterson.
The Storm opens the 2017 season on May 13 at the Los Angeles Sparks, with a 2 p.m. PDT tipoff broadcast on ESPN.