Provo • Two-sport star Jennifer Hamson was told recently by BYU’s compliance officers that she could play professional basketball this summer for a WNBA team and still retain her last year of college eligibility this fall with the volleyball team.
That made the decision a little more difficult, the 6-foot-7 senior acknowledged last week, but it didn’t alter the course she planned out for herself months ago, or the commitment she made to BYU women’s volleyball coach Shawn Olmstead.
Hamson confirmed Thursday that regardless of what happens in the WNBA Draft on Monday night, she will not play professional basketball this summer. She said she will participate in the nine-day U.S. Collegiate National Volleyball Team camp in late June in Minneapolis and return to Provo and the BYU volleyball team in the fall.
“I have made it known to the WNBA that that is definitely what I am going to do,” she said. “If a team does draft me, it will be for next season .”
Still, Hamson said she will probably watch the draft (6 p.m. MDT, ESPN2) anyway.
Even before she recommitted to volleyball last week, Hamson’s name was not showing up on a lot of mock WNBA draft websites.
But Gentry Worthington, senior WNBA draft analyst at Draftsite.com, said Hamson “should definitely be drafted, even if a team just wants to hold her rights for a year” while she focuses on volleyball.
“The highest she will probably get drafted is to Atlanta or Seattle in the middle of the second round to the middle of the third round,” Worthington said.
BYU coach Jeff Judkins said he has spoken to several WNBA coaches and general managers since BYU’s 70-51 loss to UConn on March 29 — the Cougars were the only team all season that led the Huskies in the second half — and is convinced that Hamson would have been a top-10 pick if she hadn’t made her intentions known.
“Now, I don’t know what they will do,” Judkins said. “I think she still might be second-round pick, maybe even late first round. Some team might take her just to have the rights to her, kind of like what they did with Larry Bird.”
Judkins said he has told Hamson “in a nice way” that her WNBA stock is as high as it is ever going to be. He wanted her to play for a WNBA team this summer — the regular season runs from mid-May to late-August — and rejoin the BYU volleyball team in September.
“But she didn’t want to do that,” he said. “She wanted to put all her efforts into volleyball and not mislead anybody. She is very loyal. That’s the kind of kid she is.”
Hamson earned first-team All-America honors in volleyball in 2012 after helping BYU reach the Sweet 16 in that sport as well.
“I never thought I would get this good [in basketball],” she said. “But I gave [Olmstead] my word, and I am going to keep it.”
Worthington said Hamson’s improvement won’t go unnoticed by WNBA GMs, and the fact that she signed up for pre-draft camps shows she has interest in continuing to play basketball.
“I can’t see teams passing on her for just one year of volleyball,” Worthington said.
Hamson said when the volleyball season ends in December, she will get an agent and focus on one sport — either pro basketball in the United States or pro volleyball overseas.
“I definitely want to play professionally,” she said. “It is just a matter of which sport.”
BYU basketball player Jennifer Hamson’s numbers from the 2013-14 season.
GP Points FG% FT% RPG BPG
35 17.7 .566 .715 11.5 4.2