Shoni Schimmel in rookie season in WNBA has proved to be a fierce competitor.
Schimmel has earned the right to be respected as one of the up and coming stars of the league.
ATLANTA – Three months ago on opening night for the Atlanta Dream, Shoni Schimmel came off the bench to check into her first official WNBA game against the San Antonio Stars. Less than thirty seconds into her career, her first stat was a foul. Probably not the stat the rookie wanted to have happen but after that, with the jitters out of the way, and from that point on it was nothing but business and Shoni went on to finish the game with a game high 11 assists that tied the franchise record. Shoni also scored 7 points in the game and hit some clutch free throws with seconds left in the game.
The next game up after the home game was on the road against Indiana, Shoni would go on to score 17 points and dish 10 assists to earn her first double-double of her young WNBA career. In her first two games, Shoni had accumlated 21 assists to set the Dream franchise record and she tied the WNBA record for most assists in a two game span, a record that goes all the way back to 1998.
At the half way point through the season, the WNBA announced that Shoni had the number one selling jersey in all of the WNBA, Shoni’s jersey was more popular than the likes of WNBA stars such as Skylar Diggins, Elena Delle Donne, and Brittany Griner. It marked the second straight year that a rookie was leading the way in jersey sales. The league also announced, that for the first time in franchise history, the Atlanta Dream was in the number one spot for best-selling team merchandise which was attributed to Schimmel’s popularity.
Prior to this announcement, Shoni was voted as a starter to the WNBA All-Star game by garnering over 25,000 fan votes which was good enough for the third most votes and highest rookie vote getter for this season. She became just the third reserve to earn a start in a WNBA All-Star game.
Coming into the All-Star game the questions began to arise on whether Shoni should be in the game and it was reported that she was only voted in because of her thousands of followers on social media.
But as in years past, Shoni let her response to those questions be answered by the play on the court and did she ever respond. Schimmel scored an All-Star record 29 points and had a game-high eight assists to lead the Eastern Conference All-Stars to a 125-124 victory in this event’s first-ever overtime game. Schimmel then became the first-ever rookie to earn WNBA All-Star MVP honors as she drained seven 3-pointers, also an All-Star record.
Fast forward to just a few days ago, Shoni Schimmel scored a career best 24 points for the Dream in a 96-82 drubbing of the Western Conference leading Phoenix Mercury. What was special about this game was Shoni got 20 of her points in the second quarter alone, making it the sixth 20-point quarter in WNBA history and again set a franchise record for most points in a quarter by a Dream player.
Heading into the final regular season game of the season against the Tulsa Shock the Dream have already secured the number one spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs and Shoni is averaging around 18 points over the past 5 games. Shoni is a candidate for rookie of the year even though she doesn’t have the numbers across the board of some of the other candidates but she is probably the only candidate to have multiple franchise records broken in a rookie season for a franchise.
Whether she gets the league’s top rookie award or not Shoni’s impact on the court and off the court is something that everyone around the league has taken noticed. She has not only earned her right to play in the WNBA she has also earned the right to be respected as one of the up and coming stars of the league.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in NDNSports.com. Used with permission. All rights apply.
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