Next level for Wake Forest’s Hamby: Headed to WNBA

Next level for Wake Forest’s Hamby: Headed to WNBA
May 07
00:00 2015
(Above: Photos by Craig T. Greenlee and WNBA)

Dearica Hamby is getting paid to play a game she used to hate. The soon-to-be Wake Forest graduate will soon be headed west to play with the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA. Hamby, who was selected in the first round as the sixth overall pick, is the school’s first women’s player to be chosen in the WNBA Draft.

“I know that it’s happened, but it hasn’t hit me yet,” said Hamby, in reference to being a top draft pick. “Being there on draft night brought it all out. Still, it probably won’t really sink in until I actually arrive in San Antonio.”

The next week-and-half figures to be a hectic time for Hamby, who will move to Texas in the coming days. Training camp for the Stars begins on May 17, and she’ll fly back to Winston-Salem for commencement ceremonies on May 18.

Hamby, an athletic power forward, readily admits that she had no game when she first attempted to play the game as a grade-school youngster. Back then, she had far more height than talent. As a high school sophomore, Hamby grew by five inches. By the end of her senior season, she had sprouted to 6-feet-3. Several colleges pursued Hamby, who chose Wake Forest over Florida, South Carolina, South Florida and West Virginia.

After her freshman year at Wake, a gradual transformation began to take place. Hamby stepped it up as a tour de force (averaged 21.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game) in her junior and senior seasons. Along the way, she was twice-named All-ACC and was Honorable Mention All-American. As a freshman, though, Hamby had no reason to entertain thoughts about becoming a pro athlete one day.

“Quite honestly, I never saw this coming,” she said. “What I did know is that I wanted to work around basketball. I wanted to be a rep for Nike. I didn’t see me playing basketball as a career.”

Hamby, whose home is Marietta, Ga., is a relative newcomer to the game compared to most of her peers. She didn’t start to play the game until high school and she didn’t make the cut for the varsity until her junior year. Since then, there’s been a huge learning curve and she handled the transition well.

“Right now, I’d say I’m about a seven-and-a-half on a scale of one to 10,” said Hamby, who finished her career at Wake as the all-time leader in points scored (1,801) and rebounds (1,021). “I think I can be a 10. With my quickness and versatility, my game is nowhere near what it can be.”

Hamby’s length, combined with her foot speed and lateral quickness, make her unique. A major part of her game is beating opponents down the floor in transition and finishing strong around the rim. She’s at her best in open space and she causes match-up headaches for opponents because of her ability to score in a variety of ways. As a passer, she’s much improved due to the frequent double and triple-teams she faced during her senior season.

Much has transpired for Hamby in four years’ time. There were no lofty expectations for her as a college rookie. By the end of her senior season, her prospects for playing at the next level continued to soar.

“There was no way for anyone to know that things would turn out the way they did,” she said. “It’s been a journey. But through it all, I’ve learned patience. More than anything else, that’s what has helped me to get to where I am now.”

Given Hamby’s emergence, it’s hard to believe that there was a time when she wanted no parts of basketball. Instead, she became an accomplished softball player. “At first, I didn’t like basketball,” she recalled. “I played in the boys and girls club league in sixth grade and I quit because I hated it. People kept swinging on my arms. I tried out in eighth grade but didn’t make the team.

    “Basketball was something I thought I wanted to do, but I wasn’t very good at it. When I hit that growth spurt, the basketball coach at my high school told me I should come to try-outs. I did make the team, but not because I was good, but because I was tall. That whole year I sat at the end of bench for the varsity and I played on the jayvee. But things have really worked out well for me. I’ve grown to love this game and I enjoy it and what it brings.”


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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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