Wings rookie contributes on the court with help from coaches and teammates
Aerial Powers is making the quick transition from college basketball to the WNBA, and has the speed and energy on the court to match.
“It’s a lot faster than you think coming out of college.” Powers said. “I watched a lot of WNBA games, even went to a lot. Playing it is totally a different game.”
Powers’ Michigan State team lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 20th in the final game of her Spartan career. Five weeks later she was drafted fifth overall by the Wings, and on May 1st she played in her first preseason game vs. the Indiana Fever and led all scorers with 17 points.
Forty-two days separated her final college game from her first professional appearance.
“It’s been amazing,” said Wings teammate Erin Phillips. “In the short time that I’ve known her, she is such a high-energy, positive person and works her butt off. She’s really fun to be around.”
Phillips, who is starting her seventh WNBA year, sees a lot of potential in the young Powers.
“I don’t think she realizes how good she is,” Phillips said. “And how good she can be. I’m really excited for her on this team. She is going to do some amazing things.”
Head coach Fred Williams sees the potential in all of his young players, including Powers, and wants to make sure he capitalizes. Williams, who has coached for over 30 years, also knows that playing young can mean a few mistakes.
“In the first (preseason) game, I stuck with my plan of playing all the younger players,” Williams said. “On the scoreboard we got 90 points out of that, but with younger players there is a lot of defensive lax that you’re going to have.”
The Wings lost to the Fever 108-90, but played without returning starters Skylar Diggins, Karima Christmas, Courtney Paris, and Odyssey Sims.
Williams knows that fixes take time, but has already seen Powers improve her defensive aggression and rebounding in their short time together, as well as her jump shot.
“During this year, we want her to be a contributor for us,” Williams said. “We want her coming off and being that spark plug. Being our leading scorer, I think she really showed that in her first game.”
Powers knows that coach has her back, and her teammates are there to help her improve too.
“They help me a lot,” Powers said. “On defense and on offense, they allow me to play my game. They encourage me to do what I can do. In the first game, I wasn’t as aggressive in the first half because I was overthinking. They let me know, ‘be the player we see every day in practice’.”
And what about her “spark plug” energy? Wings fans can expect to see that when the team takes to the College Park Center court for the home opener on May 21st.
“I want that every time I step on the floor. It’s in me because of the passion I have for the game.”