Seimone Augustus was among five athletes, three coaches, two administrators, one contributor and an official recently inducted as the 37th National High School Hall of Fame class.
The 14-year veteran Minnesota Lynx guard will one day be similarly honored in Springfield, Mass. the Basketball Hall of Fame home — her number 33 has already been retired at LSU, where she helped the Tigers to reach three Final Fours. She is one of the 20 all-time-greatest WNBA players chosen in 2016 as part of the league’s 20-year celebration. She has three Olympic gold medals and four WNBA titles as well.
But her June 26 induction for her exploits at Baton Rouge (La.) Capitol High School came unexpected for this longtime superstar, she told us afterwards. “I didn’t know anything about the National [High School] Hall of Fame,” Augustus admitted.
“It was amazing to find out the history [of the Hall]. It was cool to find out about [current Baylor Coach] Kim Mulkey, the youngest ever to go in and the third woman to ever go in. There are only 10 of us from Louisiana that ever went into the National Hall of Fame. That’s amazing.”
Augustus scored 3,600 points, grabbed 1,728 boards, and collected 869 assists in her four-year prep career (1999-2002), two state titles, and a 138-7 overall record. “There were two championships before that that we didn’t win,” she complained.
The two-time All-American and two-time Miss Louisiana winner went on to star at LSU for another four years before being the number-one overall pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft.
Yet her fondest back-then memory is of the fans: “I always said the community comes out for girls’ basketball, how they supported us and embraced us,” Augustus continued. “There were games when we had people in the gym at 2:30 [pm]. I remember those days.
“I remember the rivalries that we had [with future W’ers] Chelsea Newton and Alana Beard and all those players that were from Louisiana,” Augustus noted. She, Newton and Beard all have played on at least one WNBA championship club. “It’s amazing to think of the impact that we had.”
Best known for her killer crossover moves and lights-out midrange shooting — Augustus has shot 50 percent or better six times in her pro career — only recently has she let it be known that the shooting guard once threw it down. “I did it one time at the McDonald’s All American game, at practice not in the game,” Augustus stressed of her dunking prowess.
“That’s the thing for boys and girls — if you can get up there, you want to see if you can do it,” she explained. “I was able to do it easily. I started with a tennis ball, and then went to a volleyball, and then I gradually worked my way up with a basketball. It wasn’t tough with a tennis ball and volleyball, but it gave me confidence” to eventually dunk a basketball, she added.
But Augustus took her father’s advice and instead sharpened her below-the-rim game. “My dad [said] two points is two points — don’t hurt yourself trying to do something crazy,” she recalled. Her father’s second piece of advice: “To remain humble and stay to your roots.”
She is one of the humblest superstars you can meet. But Augustus is still looking to get on the floor this season, having undergone arthroscopic right knee surgery in May and being sidelined indefinitely. She is just five points away from moving into 10th place in WNBA career leaders (5,836).
“People say I still act like I did when I was in high school,” Augustus said. “I don’t know what acting like a superstar is. I don’t know what that means.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org