The Seattle Storm completed their training camp roster yesterday signing guards Ashley Corral, Dellena Criner and Jacqua Williams as well as centers Ashley Gayle and Lindsay Taylor.
As someone who watched quite a bit of Corral as a Pac-10/12 fan, she might be one the more interesting undrafted rookies to me simply because I’m interested in seeing how a pro coach might try to utilize her skill set.
At 5’9″, she was neither efficient enough as a distributor to suggest that she would be a successful pro point guard nor the type of aggressive scorer to suggest that she could easily create her own shot at the pro level.
But her ability to alternate between distributor and scorer was something that stood out as unique when I first saw her in person during her sophomore season.
Corral is reminiscent of the struggle people have with labeling (Becky) Hammon a point guard: there are those that would believe that she scores so much that she cannot possibly be considered a “point guard”…Perhaps what makes Corral a great point guard at USC is that she is able to fit exactly what her team needs at a give moment, giving them the ability to completely change the face of their offense without even making a substitution. She can meet whatever expectations Cooper has of his point guard and it’s a huge asset to the team.
At least part of Corral’s shifting role on a broad level was due to Jacki Gemelos’ situation, whose well-documented injury history never truly allowed the team to develop as strong a chemistry with her as they might’ve had she played a couple of full seasons with them. With Gemelos in the game, Corral was able to play more of that scorer’s role while Gemelos handled duties as a distributor; certainly the two would alternate, but it unquestionably took pressure off of Corral to single-handedly do both. And of course this year, freshman guard Ariya Crook further helped to assume some of that ball handling and scoring responsibility from the guard spot.
All of that could lead to inefficient play similar to Corral’s statistical profile and one thing you might wonder is whether Corral would’ve been more effective with a bit more stability – playing one of those roles instead of shifting roles based on need, sometimes from possession to possession. A seasoned player like Becky Hammon has learned to pull that off after years in the same system; most players struggle to make that happen efficiently and, more often than not, college players entering the WNBA end up having to find a role in which they do one thing well.
So this is not at all to say that Corral will become the next Becky Hammon; that’s an unreasonable expectation to place on anyone. However, I always found her to be among the more intriguing players in the Pac-10 because of how she navigated that dual responsibility, even if she didn’t do so efficiently in her senior season. She’s an exciting player to watch and even if she doesn’t make a roster this season, I’ll be interested to see what role a WNBA coaching staff would see fit to cast her in. She can obviously shoot the 3-pointer (37.5% in her senior season), but 3-point specialists are a dying breed in the era of 11-player rosters.
Corral may not be a prime example of the WNBA’s struggle to develop talent with 11-player rosters, but she is certainly an example of a player that could probably benefit from some time in a stable situation where she could adjust to the pro game and have an extended opportunity to show a pro coach what she can contribute to a team.