The Washington Mystics have the No. 1 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, which will take place a Spring Studios in New York City on April 11. Naz Hillmon’s illustrious college career at Michigan isn’t over just yet. Her team is still in the NCAA tournament. They’ll face Louisville Monday night in the Wichita Region Elite 8.
Hillmon is averaging nearly a double-double with 21.3 points (13th in the Division I) and 9.6 rebounds. The 6’2” forward is shooting 57.8 percent from the field. She’s also averaging just over 2 assists per game.
Best game this season:
On Jan. 24 against Purdue, Hillmon scored a season-high 32 points, which was also the second time during the season she scored 30-plus points. She finished the game with a double-double (32 points and 12 rebounds) and what was even more impressive was that she was 12-14 from the field (85.7 percent).
Most points scored in her collegiate career:
In 2021, Hillmon posted a career-high 50 points and 16 rebounds against the arch rival Ohio State Buckeyes. Her performance marked the all-time single-game scoring record in Michigan program history, man or woman, and recording the first 50-point game in Michigan basketball history.
2022 NCAA Tournament play:
Naz Hillmon is the key to Michigan’s success in this tournament. She has led her team with a double-double in every game on the biggest stage of the season.
This month, the senior became the first player in Michigan women’s basketball program history to be named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press. In February, she became the first Michigan basketball player, man or woman, to score 2,000 career points and reach 1,000 rebounds. She even got a shout out from LeBron James on Twitter.
She’s also a winner on the international stage. She has won three gold medals with USA Basketball, including at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup, 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and the AmeriCup in 2021 in Puerto Rico. She averaged 11.8 points and 7.8 rebounds over six games in the tournament.
What strengths does she have?
Hillmon will give her team her all on both ends of the court. In the front court, she’s automatic in the paint and will find her way to the basket every time. In addition to being a servant leader, she’s known to be an exceptional teammate. The forward is aggressive and isn't afraid to go after every rebound.
What things can she work on?
In the WNBA, she won’t always be the tallest on the floor or strongest, especially to begin her professional career. Offensively, she will have to work a bit harder when she’s in the paint. I think developing more of a mid-range and even working her way out to the three-point line could be good to add to her game. She has only taken six 3-point attempts in her college career. She’s shooting 73.5 percent from the free-throw line in her senior season. While it’s not bad, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Basketball runs in her family:
The 21-year-old comes from a basketball family. Her mother, NaSheema Anderson, was an All-American at Vanderbilt and played a season in the American Basketball League, and her maternal grandmother, Gail Williams, played at Bethune-Cookman before transferring to Cleveland State.
How could Hillmon fit in with the Mystics?
Going into this season, the Mystics have immense depth, especially at the forward position. If she, somehow, ends up on the team, I don’t foresee her getting a ton of minutes right away but what an opportunity to learn from forwards like Elena Delle Donne, Tianna Hawkins, Elizabeth Williams, Myisha Hines-Allen and Alysha Clark. She would get chances to develop on this team as Coach Thibault has allowed for younger players to see the floor and contribute.
I’d love to see her spend time working on her perimeter shooting with Clark and Delle Donne. From what others say about her personality, she seems like she would get along well with the team and take advantage of her opportunity to learn from some of the game’s best players.
Michigan Coach Kim Barnes Arico considers Hillmon to be a generational talent. “I say it so much about Naz but she’s generational,” Barnes Arico said following her team’s second round win over Villanova in the NCAA tournament.
Hillmon has the opportunity to be special in the WNBA despite whenever she is selected in the draft.