NEWARK , NJ – It was as recent as June 5.
For all intents and purposes it feels like a year.
Layshia Clarendon was appearing in her second WNBA game. Injuries to the Indiana Fever backcourt necessitated her logging 37 minutes on the afternoon. Her Fever dropped an overtime decision to the Liberty. Clarendon scored 6 points (shooting 3 of 11) and received what amounted to a tough WNBA orientation.
“I was tentative and still trying to find myself,” she said following the Fever’s 74-53 win over the Liberty on Saturday. In that game Clarendon looked so different than 6 weeks earlier. The 5-9 rookie guard scored eight points with one assist and steal in 20 minutes of action. She set up the offense, reversed the ball with authorities and knocked down shots given the opportunity. Of greater importance, was the ability to recognize when a shot was available or when another pass had to be made. Even the body language and holding up her fingers to signal a play exudes an air of confidence and assurance.
“You can see the progress she (Clarendon) has made just in a few weeks,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “You can see the way she competes in drills and how well she practices. She HAS come far in just a few weeks and it shows in the games.”
Clarendon has dealt with hip and ankle injuries. After the Liberty contest she iced her right ankle. The return to health of some of the Indiana guard corps has actually made Clarendon more effective. Rather than being ‘thrown into the fire’ earlier in the season, she is now in more of an off the bench contributory role. A role that is helping the Fever as the season progresses. Through nine games she is averaging twenty minutes per outing, scoring 4.8 points per game with a season total 14 assists against 8 turnovers..
Clarendon speaks in humble terms on being a first round WNBA draft pick and “getting to go up against stars like Cappie Pondexter (of the Liberty).” It has been quite the Spring for Clarendon. Chronologically, she led her Cal team to the Final Four, was drafted by the Fever and received her degree from the University of California.
When told her alma mater will face UCONN in December’s Maggie Dixon Classic, Clarendon thinks back saying, “I would have loved to face UCONN.” Specifically, she meant early April when Louisville blocked the path stopping Cal in a national semifinal en route to the championship game.
Early season it seemed Clarendon drew attention to her hair. A blondish Mohawk style, quite noticeable. Lately, and rightfully so, she is getting noticed for her contributions. One to come off the bench and energize the Fever attack.
The progress as a WNBA player has been significant from just past Memorial Day to now. What the Fever have in Layshia Clarendon is a backcourt contributor to hoped they would get back on draft day.