SEATTLE (AP) — Kelsey Plum set such a high standard during her college career that achieving immediate success at the same level as a professional was going to be challenging.
Throw in a severely sprained ankle that kept Plum out of the San Antonio Stars lineup for nearly a month and the pro career for the greatest scorer in NCAA women’s basketball history hasn’t gotten off to the start many expected.
“It’s been difficult to try and get back, and not even to get back but play at the level I’m capable at,” Plum said in a recent phone interview. “It’s a tough shift regardless for rookies so it’s been an experience for me that is going to help me in the long run. For now, it’s not easy.”
Plum returns to her college town this weekend when San Antonio faces the Storm. Seattle is where Plum became the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer, leading Washington to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a Final Four.
It will be Plum’s first trip back since she was drafted No. 1 overall by the Stars. But it comes with Plum struggling on the court, something she rarely experienced during her college career.
“It’s definitely frustrating at times because I’m not moving the way I usually do. That change of speed is how I create things for me and my teammates so it’s frustrating,” Plum said. “Percentage-wise? Let’s just say not 100. At the end of the day, I’m playing and it’s not an excuse for how I’m playing.”
Plum injured her right ankle in early May. It’s her first major injury since a knee issue during her sophomore year at Washington that she was able to play through while wearing a brace.
Plum has appeared in only seven games, never playing more than 28 minutes or scoring more than eight points. Last Sunday against Chicago, Plum was 0-for-4 shooting in 12 minutes and went scoreless. Thursday’s loss to Los Angeles was even worse. Plum played just five minutes and went scoreless. Plum scored at least 20 points in every college game during her senior season.
She’s also adjusting to a different role with the Stars. The entire offense isn’t being run through Plum, as it was at Washington.
“I would think of it as at (Washington) every possession, every single time down the floor, I was called upon to score or create for my teammates,” she said. “This is different because now I’m running offense, and yeah I do look to score and create, but it’s not the 100 percent ball goes through me. I have a lot of teammates that can create and do things. My workload is a lot different here.”
Plum is confident her scoring prowess will eventually show up in the pros. She recalled a recent conversation with former WNBA star and current San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon where it became clear to Plum how early she is in her career.
“She said, ‘You’ve probably played 100 games in your career like in college, and these women have played like 800,'” Plum said. “Just everyone is so much smarter. In college a lot of times I would read the play and just outsmart people. It’s different here because I’m trying to think while still somewhat limited. It’s frustrating, but it’s life.”