Former Husky O'Neill Realizing Dream Of Playing in the WNBA
July 17, 2008
SEATTLE - Former Husky forward/guard Kristen O'Neill is living out a childhood dream. The Edmonds, Wash., native signed a third-straight seven-day contract with the WNBA's Seattle Storm on Tuesday and is with the squad as it embarks on a four-game road trip beginning at Indiana on Friday.
O'Neill, who was a standout on the Washington women's basketball team from 2002-06, had signed two previous seven-day contracts beginning July 1. Since, she has played in four games, averaging 3.3 minutes. O'Neill played eight minutes and grabbed one rebound in the Storm's 96-71 win over Minnesota on July 5.
'Playing in the WNBA is realizing a childhood dream of mine,' O'Neill said from Indiana on Thursday. 'Throughout my whole career I've wanted to reach my full potential as a player. It's been a lot of hard work and it will continue to be that way, but it's been a dream come true to have the opportunity to compete at this level.'
After two years of playing professionally overseas with clubs in Spain and Ireland, O'Neill received an invitation to the Storm's preseason training camp in April. Despite not making the regular season roster, she still practiced with the team until being signed to a first seven-day contract July 1.
Although there is a degree of uncertainty as to her future with the team due to the short contracts, O'Neill says it's actually made her stronger.
'I really can't focus on the things I don't have control over,' the former Washington state Gatorade Player of the Year observes, 'All I can do is what I do every day, and that is to try to bring a positive attitude and play as hard as I can. Putting it in perspective that way, it doesn't really matter if they give me seven days or if they sign me for the rest of the season because it's not going to change what I do. It's been a great lesson.'
Her opportunities with the Storm brought her back to her native Pacific Northwest after spending two seasons playing professionally overseas. After graduating from UW in 2006, O'Neill spent one year with a club in Madrid, Spain. Last year she split her time between clubs in Burgos, Spain and in Ireland.
'Basketball has provided me with so many incredible opportunities to see the world and meet wonderful people,' O'Neill says.
O'Neill was a three-year co-captain at Washington and helped lead the Huskies to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances during her career. She ranks fifth on UW's all-time list for both three-pointers (136) and three-pointers attempted (416). O'Neill notched 35 double-figure scoring games and was selected to the 2002 Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Also a standout in the classroom, she was a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic honoree including second-team nod as a senior.
As a prepster, O'Neill attended Meadowdale High School in Edmonds. A highly touted recruit, she was also tabbed a third-team high school All-American by both Parade Magazine and Street and Smith's.
With her strong Northwest ties, being able to play in the WNBA in front of her hometown fans makes the experience even more special for O'Neill.
'The way the community has embraced my dream has meant so much to me,' she said.