I HAD JUST taken my first college coaching job in July 2012 and as part of my responsibilities as an assistant at Loyola Marymount, I drove to San Diego to evaluate some high school seniors-to-be. On only my fourth day at work I saw this 5'9" guard from La Jolla Country Day who really captured my attention during a club tournament. I told Charity Elliott, our coach, "I have to call her. I know we might not have a shot, but I don't care. I have to try."
The girl's name was Kelsey Plum.
Kelsey was my first recruiting call. I remember she was great to talk to; she came off like a really good kid. To get her attention—and trust me when I tell you that this is something I never say to anyone—I told Kelsey, "I know you probably don't know me, but I'm the all-time leading scorer in women's college basketball, and I would love to help you break my record—because you can do it. You are something special." I thought the call really went well. She was a gym rat, just like me. She had been coached by her dad, just like me.
During our talk she told me that she planned to visit Loyola Marymount. I called Charity to say, "This is amazing." We were celebrating. But it never happened. I think Kelsey just didn't want to crush me right off the bat.
Now Kelsey (right) is a senior at Washington, and last Saturday she scored 57 points to reach 3,397—four more than me when I graduated from Missouri State in 2001. She can hit the three-pointer or the pull-up jumper, which is a lost art in the women's game. She can take the ball to the rim and finish with contact. She's good with both hands, and she has a strong frame to take pounding. Every time she catches the ball, I can't wait to see what she'll do next. It's like I know something great is about to happen.
I'm now an assistant at my alma mater, and earlier this year I left a message for Huskies coach Mike Neighbors that I'd be happy to talk to Kelsey or help her in any way. It was a different time when I set the record, but I know some of the pressure she is under. In 2001 we had a game at Wichita State, a couple of hours from Claflin, Kans., where I grew up. I was then 44 points away from breaking Patricia Hoskins's NCAA record, and that night there was a bodyguard assigned to me, a big, strong, tough-looking guy. I don't know who hired him—maybe Wichita State—but he had an earpiece and was keeping autograph seekers away. I was like, "What in the world is this?" Then at home games we had extra security because the crowds made it hard to get warmed up. I also remember going to eat at Burger King the week before I broke the record and getting mobbed when we sat down. Someone even offered one of my teammates two season tickets to the St. Louis Cardinals for one ticket to the game where I was projected to break the record. She would have loved to make that deal, but it was against NCAA rules, obviously. It was just a crazy time, and Kelsey's run has kind of taken me back to some of those memories.
A ton of talented players have come close to my total of 3,393 points, including Brittney Griner when she was at Baylor (3,283). I'm stunned that it has held up for 16 years, but I'm excited to see Kelsey pass me. What she has done at Washington is terrific because it brings attention to the women's game. But I'm also keeping my eye on Ohio State junior guard Kelsey Mitchell. She was the fastest player in history to get to 2,000 points—and who knows? She might overtake us both in 2018.
A ton of talented players have come close to breaking my NCAA record, but I'm excited to see Kelsey Plum pass me.
Which team will win the women's NCAA title?
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