Kelsey Plum is not wearing a Huskies jersey anymore and she knows that.
Nearly three months ago, she put the finishing touches on the greatest basketball career for a man or woman at the University of Washington.
And today, the most prolific scorer in NCAA women’s basketball history is averaging a mere 4.8 points while shooting a frigid 31.8 percent. She has had more turnovers (11) than assists (9) and is fighting to keep her starting job on an 0-7 San Antonio Stars team that resides at the bottom of the WNBA standings.
So, yeah, it’s been a tough transition to the pros — and being the No. 1 overall draft pick has put a bigger spotlight on her early-season woes.
“I would be lying if I said it didn’t,” Plum said this week during a telephone interview. “It’s like going hunting and you’re a deer, but you’re a glow-in-the-dark deer and everyone else is just a deer.
“That’s what makes the challenge that much more exciting. But also, too, it makes it a lot harder.”
Two years ago, Storm guard Jewell Loyd experienced a roller-coaster season in which she was the No. 1 draft pick. She struggled with consistency and voluntarily moved to the bench before reclaiming her starting job and winning the Rookie of the Year award.
“Any time you’re the number-one pick and you’re everywhere and you break records, people are going to want to test you and see are you the real deal or not,” Loyd said. “That’s in any job. If you come in and you have all of these accolades, people want to see if it’s real.”
Aside from a 19-point performance in her exhibition opener, it has been a series of struggles for Plum.
The 5-foot-8 point guard badly injured her right ankle during training camp and missed the first three games of the season. In her WNBA debut, Plum had more turnovers (five) than points (four) as a reserve.
Eight games into the season and the Stars are still winless, although facing the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird is considered by Plum to be the coolest experience by far in her career.
Following another iffy showing from Plum (6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist), Bird offered some friendly words of encouragement.
“It’s a lot to come in and have to manage a team and figure out your way and figure out the style of play, because the jump from college to WNBA, truthfully, arguably, is the hardest in professional sports,” Bird said. “It really is. You’re talking about 12 teams, 11 spots. It’s survival of the fittest. Everybody is good. There’s no drop off.
“I think for Kelsey, it’s definitely an adjustment for her and it’s just going to take time. But you see spots. You see moments where she is able to break free and just play her game.”