Former Wake Forest star Dearica Hamby making headway as upstart rookie in WNBA

Former Wake Forest star Dearica Hamby making headway as upstart rookie in WNBA
July 02
00:00 2015

In photo above: Dearica Hamby is averaging 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds for the San Antonio Stars this season. (Photo by San Antonio Stars)

Dearica Hamby draws a blank when asked about her memories of the moments leading up to her WNBA debut with the San Antonio Stars. What she does recall is how stunned she was after learning that she was in the starting lineup.

Hamby, a first-round draft pick, didn’t wilt under the glare of the bright lights. The rookie from Wake Forest contributed 10 points and 5 rebounds on 4-of-8 field goal shooting in a 76-71 road loss to the defending league champ Phoenix Mercury.

“When they told me I would start, it came as a shock,” said Hamby, who was the sixth overall pick in the WNBA Draft in April. “With this being my first year, I didn’t expect it and I was a little nervous. But by the time the second half came around, I was able to settle down. Once I got my feet wet, I felt a lot more like myself out there on the floor.”

From all indications, Hamby, a 6-foot-3 guard, has a very promising future with San Antonio. Aside from emerging as a dependable scorer, she typically draws the assignment of defending the league’s best perimeter players on a nightly basis.

After eight games, Hamby’s averaging 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds a game, and she’s third on the team in minutes played (24.3 per game). Coach Dan Hughes is excited about what Hamby brings to the table for his team.

“De is making an impact as a rookie,” said Hughes. “She’s learning on the run, playing against the best in the world, and she’s holding her own.

“In my opinion, she’s having the best start of any rookie in the league. She’ll continue to grow as she learns more about the pro game and learns more about her own capabilities. With De, there’s so much up-side.”

It didn’t take long for Hamby to experience her first homecoming as a pro. Six days after the season opener, the Stars flew east to play the Atlanta Dream. She grew up in the nearby suburb of Norcross. It was Hamby’s first time playing in front of the home folks as a pro. Hamby went 7-of-11 from the field and finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds.

Being on the visiting team in a game played in her hometown is nothing new for Hamby. During her college career, she made several trips to Atlanta when Wake Forest played ACC rival Georgia Tech. “I usually do well when I come back home,” said Hamby, who played small forward and power forward for the Deacons. “It’s so much fun to play in front of friends and family. That game gave me a lot of confidence. I was able to show what I’m capable of doing.”

San Antonio’s season has been somewhat of a struggle so far. The Stars lost their first six games, which marked the worst start in franchise history. The record, though, doesn’t tell the whole story. Three of those defeats were by single digits.

Lately, however, there are signs of better things to come. Entering the final week of June, San Antonio ended its drought and won two games in a row. The first win came at home against Phoenix (76-71) and Hamby had a superlative effort on the boards and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

“We have a young team,” said Hamby, who is the Deacons’ all-time leader in points and rebounds. “We’re growing and we’re learning. This is a good situation for me because of all the help and support I get from my coaches and teammates. I’m just trying to be consistent in every facet of the game. Whatever it takes to win – scoring, rebounding, playing defense, setting picks – that’s what I’m willing to do.”

Although Hamby finds herself matched up against the league’s top perimeter players as a defender, she’s still more of an inside player on offense. That doesn’t mean that Hamby’s offensive output is restricted to the post area. In due time, Hughes explained, Hamby will emerge as a versatile swing player who can score in a variety of ways.
“Right now, De’s comfort level is inside,” said Hughes. “She has that ability to face the basket and go around people. Her game will expand from the inside/out as she grows in her ability to play away from the basket.”

“There’s a lot more for her to learn, but she’ll handle it because she’s an excellent student of the game. De has performed like I thought she would.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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