After a magical season and an incredibly successful collegiate career, one might think Princeton senior Blake Dietrick would ease up on herself a little, focus on her thesis, and enjoy senior spring. Instead, she is training as hard as ever, with a new goal in sight – the WNBA.
Dietrick’s has achieved a level of success few in the NCAA have matched. She was an all-around force for the 31 — 1 Tigers, averaging 15.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest in her final season. She looked indefatigable throughout the season as she averaged 32.8 minutes a game, including playing all 80 minutes in Princeton’s postseason run as a #8 seed in the NCAA tournament. Her efforts led to the program's first ever win in the NCAA tournament.
Moreover, she proved her ability to step up in tough situations. She averaged 18.5 points in Princeton’s two tournament games against #9 seed University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and #1 seed University of Maryland. In her final game as a Tiger, she lit up Maryland for 26 points on 10 — 18 shooting.
The awards she has won further speak to her tremendous abilities. Dietrick was named Ivy League Player of the Year this past season, and has been nominated to the All-Ivy First Team in back-to-back years. In February, she earned a place on the Nancy Lieberman Watch List for the best female college point guard in the country. Moreover, she will go down in Tigers history with the most assists in a single season (157).
The stage has been set perfectly for Dietrick’s jump to professional basketball. Much of her decision to go for the WNBA was based on the great success she experienced this season, and subsequent interest she generated from WNBA scouts.
“My decision was strictly based on interest that my coach [Courtney Banghart] has gotten from talking to teams, and that only happened after our season ended.” Dietrick said “I had absolutely no idea that this was a possibility. It was absolutely based on the success of the team.”
Banghart feels positive about Dietrick’s chances in the draft.
“I’ve spoken to almost every head coach in the league” Banghart remarked. “[Dietrick] brings that incredible, winning mentality. She’s willing to work for success; she’s gotten great feedback. She deserves [this opportunity].”
The WNBA Draft takes place April 16th.
Dietrick would be walking a path very few women from the Ivy League have gone before. Harvard’s Allison Feaster has so far been the only player from the Ivy League to be drafted in the WNBA. Feaster, who was drafted in 1998, led a 16thseeded Crimson team to victory against #1 seed Stanford, the largest upset in NCAA tournament history.
When reached for comment, Dietrick expressed hearty gratitude to her teammates and how they have supported her as she prepares to make her transition. Dietrick, who has played for both Princeton’s basketball and lacrosse teams, will forego the lacrosse season and spend her remaining time at Princeton training to handle the rigors of the WNBA.
“My basketball teammates were obviously so proud, I’ll be doing team workouts with them. But the lacrosse team was amazingly supportive” Dietrick proclaimed, "I was nervous about talking to them [because] I’d be leaving the team. It was a tough decision but definitely the right one, and they are so excited for me and just as supportive."
While Dietrick intends to continue working out with her teammates during the spring, she will also conduct intense training on her own, which will include competing against members of the men’s basketball team.
“I’ll be doing one on one work, and will be playing with guys too, just to get a little bit more athletic, get some more speed and quickness”.
As she prepares for a WNBA career, Dietrick will continue put much focus on being a good teammate to her next team.
“For whichever team I’m on, I [want to be] a good teammate to them. My teammates have been like sisters, the best I could possibly ask for,” Dietrick said. “My goal is to make sure that wherever I end up being, I make that my new home and my new family.”