WNBA's Top 20 Players: No. 19 Sylvia Fowles

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WNBA's Top 20 Players: No. 19 Sylvia Fowles
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

6’6".

Raw.

Athletic.

A highlight waiting to happen.

These are the type of words that cause cautious optimism in regards to basketball prospects. The clouded joy stems from being unsure of what these physical gifts will translate into on the hardwood.

For Sylvia Fowles, those aforementioned gifts immediately translated into wins on the collegiate level. Her four years at LSU were spent shattering records and solidifying an already established basketball program.

She managed to help the Lady Tigers advance to four consecutive final fours. She dominated a very competitive SEC, and managed to capture the conference’s Player of the Year Award, ahead of Tennessee’s Candace Parker.

But it was Parker who defeated Fowles in her last collegiate game, and also the player chosen ahead of her in the 2008 WNBA Draft.

High draft picks are essential to a franchise and basing picks on potential rather than performance can be deadly.There were not too many questions about the Chicago Sky’s choice at number two.

Fowles was simply a player who couldn’t be passed on. Similar to the fact that you can’t teach speed, you also can’t teach size.  However, basketball players are athletes, but not all athletes can play basketball. Physical gifts and attributes can take players far, but there are no stars who simply depend on wishes. With the No. 2 pick it is important to draft a contributor.

Two years prior, the Chicago Bulls were in a similar situation as their sister franchise. The Bulls traded their number 4 draft pick Lamarcus Aldridge, because they were tempted by an incredible athlete who had just led LSU to the final four, Tyrus Thomas.

His ooooh and ahhhh drawing dunks and shot blocks were enough to convince Chicago to trade their No. 4 pick Lamarcus Aldridge to get him. His talents have yet to fully materialize and for Fowles it took a little time as well.

A microcosm of her rookie season occurred on June 3rd against Candace Parker’s Los Angeles Sparks. Fowles guarded Lisa Leslie very well throughout, and on one possession threw her shot back as if the WNBA legend was Mugsy Bogues in the post. 

She recorded the WNBA’s first goaltending call, a detail which shows the league has never seen a player with her type of athleticism before.

However, another small tidbit was that she sustained an injury on the play as well. She finished the game with three blocks, but only four points. It’s the flashes of brilliance that come too far apart and turn into a career of disappointment that has to make some fans weary.

However, as Bulls fans wait for Thomas to get "it", Sky fans need not worry. Fowles was taught that and more this summer playing on the USA Olympic team. Under the tutelage of WNBA legends Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson, Fowles shined perhaps more than any other post player on the team and was able take her game to the next level.

She actually led the team in scoring, averaging a little over thirteen points per a game.
Fowles continued to improve her game this off season when she traveled overseas to play for the Russian powerhouse Spartak Moscow.

Once again, Fowles held her own against some of the worlds best competition. On a team that had Austrailian great Lauren Jackson and Russia’s Tatiana Shchegoleva, Fowles became the go-to post player.

Her strong play inside on both sides of the ball not only earned her Center of the Year, but Defensive player of the year in the Euroleague as well.

She dunked a couple times this offseason in Russia, but it's time to get past the highlights.

As another WNBA season rears it’s head,  its obvious that for a healthy Fowles, the sky is the limit.

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