By Matthew Roberson
Basketball is a global game. It is a cliché that has been uttered so many times that it is starting to sound tired.
Not many people understand this statement as well as Sami Whitcomb. While Whitcomb was born and raised in California and played her collegiate basketball at the University of Washington, it was not long ago that she was among the many American hoopers to take their talents overseas.
Whitcomb went undrafted in 2010 after her days as a Husky were over. Joining the UW staff as a video coordinator spawned a realization that she still had the urge to play. When no WNBA teams came calling, Whitcomb headed to Germany. She played the 2011-12 season for the ChemCats Chemnitz before suiting up for the Wolfenbüttel Wildcats in 2012-13. Four years later, after a pit stop in Slovakia before dominating in Australia, Whitcomb is an invaluable piece of the Storm’s bench.
“I feel like there were moments where I felt a little more comfortable,” Whitcomb said. “There were lots of moments of growth, and even doubt for yourself and things like that. But I definitely enjoyed it.”
While she was technically considered a rookie by WNBA standards, Whitcomb made it clear on May 26 at KeyArena that her skills were far and above the average rookie. On that Friday night in Seattle, Whitcomb dropped 22 points on 6-for-8 three-point shots. All of her baskets came in the second half, setting a WNBA record for most three balls in a half. From that day forth, the other 11 teams in the league were well aware of Whitcomb’s ability to get hot quickly.
“I’m excited to see how I can evolve the things that I’ve learned,” Whitcomb said. “Obviously I didn’t average 22, but I was able to consistently give a little bit of a boost off the bench.”
The life of a reserve player can be very inconsistent, as Whitcomb can attest to. She played 15 minutes in the game against New York, more than she had all season to that point. After that, she went for nine points in 17 minutes against Indiana before being held scoreless on June 3 by Minnesota.
Looking at the minutes column in Whitcomb’s 2017 game log, it can read a bit like lottery numbers: 10, 21, 14, 4. She’s had her fair share of games with zero points, but also seven games with at least nine. As she will tell you, that’s just part of the job description.
“I wanted be someone who could come in and inject energy,” Whitcomb said. “Some games that meant scoring a little bit more, sometimes it didn’t. There are times when you aren’t even going to get shots off. Even if the shots weren’t falling, even if I wasn’t going to get any looks, they knew they could rely on me for other things.”
Of course, the Ventura, Calif., native wouldn’t trade her spot on the Storm’s bench for anything. The WNBA was always her dream as she grinded in Germany, Slovakia, and Australia. In her first year playing professionally in the States, Whitcomb displayed a deadly shooting touch, tenacious defense, and an unmatched work ethic. Her 2017 season not only endeared her in the hearts of Storm fans, it also showed basketball minds from Seattle to Perth that Whitcomb is a bona fide player.
- Went off for 22 points on 6-for-8 three pointers in a May 26 win vs. New York
- Set the WNBA record for most three pointers in a half by sinking six in the second half vs. New York on May 26
- Made 28-for-63 (44.4 percent) three pointers in her first 15 WNBA games
- Scored 13 points on July 6 vs. New York
- Tallied 11 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals, and an 11 +/- rating on Aug. 5 vs. San Antonio
- Among rookies averaging 10 or more minutes per game, Whitcomb ranked in the top-ten of three-point percentage, points per game, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage