Tayler Hill soon will earn her human economy degree from Ohio State. A few weeks ago, she went on a few interviews and last week got her first job offer.
“I never have been on a job interview, so I’m not sure exactly how that works,” admitted the Minneapolis native before interviewing for and accepting her first job as a professional basketball player. The Washington Mystics selected her as their first-round pick in this year’s WNBA draft, and she starts her post-college job in May.
Hill briefly explained the interview process, which for a WNBA prospect is a lot different than NFL and NBA potential draftees: no 40-yard timings or individual workouts beforehand. I once attended a league pre-draft camp in Chicago during its early years, but those camps are no longer held.
“The coaches only get to see you [play] in college,” she noted. “I think that in the WNBA it is a lot of personal questions — it’s about who I am and what I’m like as a person. [Teams] want to recruit not just basketball players but people who are going to come into the organization.
“He and I had some really good talks,” she recalled of her interview with first-year Mystics Coach Mike Thibault. “Other coaches talked about themselves and what they can bring to the table. Then they asked some specific basketball questions.
“He [Thibault] was really interested in me and seemed like he really cared and showed how to get to the next step. His interest level in me was really high.”
Then came the waiting game, and the evening of April 15 was the culmination of four Toni Braxton-like days that left the soon-to-be Ohio State graduate breathless.
“We had rookie orientation Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” said Hill. “We learned a lot and they threw a lot of information at us, but it was very helpful. We learned everything about being a rookie: salaries, communication and marketing, the CBA (the players’ collective bargaining agreement) and players’ organization.”
Then came draft day: “Monday was an exciting day. When we got up in the morning, we had no breaks until the end of the draft.”
But when WNBA President Laurel Richie finally called her name, “It was a relief off my shoulders. I hugged my mom first — she always comes first,” said the new Mystics guard. “My entire family — my parents and my little brothers and sisters — were all there except my two older siblings. It was just a blessing having them all there, having both my parents with me at the table, and all my siblings in the ‘green room’ in the back. My family has been there for me since day one.
“For them to watch and experience something like this is something you really can’t explain,” she said. “I think it will sink in more once I really get down there working out and actually moved to Washington” for training camp next month.
She eventually wants to use her degree “to work with kids. Maybe open a daycare or a little center for children.” But until then, in a couple of weeks Hill heads to her first training camp.
“You can’t prepare for the WNBA unless you’ve played in the WNBA,” she said. “There’s no way that you can prepare for game speed or playing against the best basketball players in the world night in and night out.”
Therefore, it’s important for her to be mentally sharp from the get-go. “I’ve got to be confident in myself, and I’ve got to know that I can do this,” she pointed out.
After graduating from Minneapolis South four years ago, Hill has been a member of the visiting team whenever she came back to her hometown, a position that will continue whenever Washington plays Minnesota in Minneapolis each season.
“Whenever I came home, I never got booed, and [the local fans] always cheered for me. I just appreciate the support, and I hope they continue to support me through my WNBA years,” said Hill.
(Still) gender inequity in media coverage III
Only eight words mentioned Hill’s selection in the Washington newspapers. USA Today and ESPN’s Bottom Line only listed the W’s first-round picks. However, endless words were expended on the NFL draft, which at the time was still a week away, and on the NBA draft still two months away.
Did you know…?
Hill and Tamara Moore (2003) are the two only Minneapolis City Conference players who have been WNBA first-round picks. How many teams did Moore play for during her pro career? (Answer in next week’s “View.”)
See more sports commentary on “Another View Extra” on the MSR website.
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