Last Saturday, the Washington Mystics lost to the Chicago Sky in their season opener. But as the United States starts to head toward a post-pandemic normal, we start to see more fans in the stands, including celebrities.
We saw two notable basketball players in the stands: former Gonzaga star Jalen Suggs and UConn sophomore guard Paige Bueckers (pronounced “Beckers”). Here’s a video snapshot though Suggs wasn’t mentioned.
(And yes, Bueckers was on crutches. She had ankle surgery earlier this month.)
Bueckers, a 5’11 point guard was the Naismith, Wooden and AP women’s college basketball player of the year as a freshman last season where UConn made the Final Four. She’s from the Minneapolis suburbs like Suggs, who was the starting point guard of the Gonzaga Bulldogs men’s basketball team that made the national championship game this past season. The two have been best friends since they were in ... elementary school!
I’m not sure why they picked Washington as a place to meet up. After all, their hometown Minnesota Lynx had a game the night before ... at home!
But anyway, at least from Suggs’ side, there could be some reasons why he would want to be in Washington. Let the speculation machine begin!
- Rui Hachimura — As you can see in the picture above, Suggs was wearing a Washington Wizards hoodie, perhaps (or maybe not) as a nod to Hachimura, who has just finished his second regular season with Washington. While they didn’t play at Gonzaga at the same time, I would HOPE that they met. If the Wizards were NOT in the play-in next week, Suggs would certainly be aware that wearing that hoodie would spark a LOT of speculation that he wants to play for the Wizards. Since he’s projected to be a Top-5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, I think we can safely say that he has no desire to actually play for the Wizards this season. I mean ... Russell Westbrook. Bradley Beal .... they’re going to take all of his minutes away .... regardless of who’s coaching.
- Courtney Vandersloot — Though Suggs spent only one year in Spokane, he would definitely know that the best women’s basketball player from Gonzaga is Vandersloot, who averaged 19.8 points and 10.2 assists per game in her senior season (2010-11), leading the Zags to the Elite Eight. Vandersloot played for the Sky for her entire WNBA career where she averaged 10.0 assists per game (exactly!) just last season. Maybe he wanted to say “Hi” to her after the game? I don’t know.
As for Bueckers, there don’t seem to be as many clearer connections with her and the Mystics or Wizards. But Tina Charles did go to UConn during her college days.
Regardless of what theories we want to spew out there as to why Suggs and Beuckers came to D.C. last weekend. I don’t see the Wizards making a serious run at trying to draft him, or more realistically, make a trade to get his rights. And Beuckers isn’t going to the WNBA for at least another couple years. But still, I’m happy that star college basketball players took time out of their day to come to D.C. to catch a Mystics game this summer!