Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Jasmine Dickey’s underdog mentality is paving her path in WNBA and overseas

SportsJasmine Dickey’s underdog mentality is paving her path in WNBA and overseas

Managing Sports Editor

This article will be published in The Review’s special magazine issue, set to be available on campus starting the week of April 24.

Jasmine Dickey is still defying the odds.

One year removed from her final game in a Delaware uniform, her professional career is flourishing overseas and in the homeland.

Many WNBA Draft late-rounders or mid-major stars in college fizzle out early on, but Dickey – who was drafted by the Dallas Wings in the third round as the 30th selection in 2022 – is instead making her mark professionally.

It all clicked for the former Delaware phenom at the first day of Wings training camp last spring. 

“I saw the girls and then at the end of practice, my coach said that she was very impressed by my defense,” Dickey said. “We were in the huddle and she just pretty much announced it. 

“I already had that motivation because I was there. I’m already the underdog in a sense. I always had that underdog mentality. [They’re] probably like, ‘Alright she made the cut but we don’t really know where she is, she comes from a mid-major, whatever.’ So after putting in that work for the first day of training camp and then getting that praise in the middle of the huddle, it was my ticket in.”

She’s still on the Wings roster as a reserve and plays overseas in Italy for an Italy-Serie A1 team, Crema, averaging 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. But the realization of a dream all started last April.

Dickey entered the draft coming off of two Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Player of the Year seasons for the Blue Hens. She provided Delaware fans with memorable performances throughout her career, such as a career-high 52-point showing in February 2022 or her 27-point, 18-rebound double-double in 2022’s CAA Championship.

Along with the conference trophy, Dickey’s monster performance helped Delaware clinch a berth in the NCAA tournament, where she scored 31 points in a first-round loss to No. 4 Maryland. However, not even 30 days passed between her final college game and draft day. 

Compared to the men’s side where draft prospects have a handful of months before the regular season starts, the WNBA begins in May, just about two months after most women’s teams close out their campaigns. 

After starting 31 games in her senior season, Dickey had less than a month to prepare for the draft, and upon being selected by the Wings, immediately flew down to Dallas for training camp and the preseason.

“This is what I worked hard for so I just got to not even think about being tired,” Dickey said. “This is what I want to do. It didn’t really affect me so much physically because mentally I was like, I’m not even gonna think about the physical part of it, I’m just going to lock in.

“I’m a homebody, so just being away from home even for that three-hour flight, I was like man, I just wanna go home. But I enjoy training camp a lot, I enjoy the Wings a lot. They took care of my body a lot. I just had a good time, I can’t really complain about anything. Everything happens for a reason. I’m on the right path in life, so I was good.”

Through her impressions at camp, practice and two preseason contests (where she tallied a combined 25 points), Dickey was awarded a roster spot with the Wings. 

Alongside two-time WNBA MVP and six-time All-Star Elena Delle Donne (2009-2013 at Delaware), Dickey is the only Blue Hen on an active roster in the league. It is an astonishing feat for such a small league – there are just 12 teams, and each team carries 11 or 12 players during the regular season.

With only around 140 spots across the league and 12 on the Dallas roster, Dickey held her ground all of last year, playing bench minutes in her rookie season. She appeared in 20 games and totaled 21 points.

She says she enjoyed cheering on the bench and staying engaged that way, but her return back to a starting role for Crema calls back to the full-game grind Dickey often put on display at her alma mater.

“It’s a body adjustment, because I gotta keep going and going all game,” Dickey said. “But honestly, I felt back in my element. It’s a lot of fun. I love playing for a long time. A lot of people will tell me I don’t look tired. I am, but I won’t tell you or show you that.”

Being in Italy

Jumping into a new culture, country and continent hasn’t come without its challenges, but Dickey has slowly learned some of the language. Teammate and fellow American Raelin D’Alie (Crema’s starting point guard) has been one of the biggest helpers to Dickey.

After exploring around when she could, Dickey said the basketball-life balance shifted to 75-25 once the push to the end of the regular season began for the Crema squad. But she was able to enjoy some late-season family time, as her parents brought her younger brother over to Italy for his surprise 21st birthday gift and a chance to watch Dickey play in one of the season’s last games.

Despite the busy end to the season on and off the court, Dickey plans to set aside time in future years for overseas explorations.

“I am a little homesick, I can say that. But I think that’ll come with your first year of being overseas. So I’m definitely looking forward to many more years of being overseas.”

The Delaware connection

The 2021-2022 Delaware women’s basketball group was special in the moment, and a year after they brought home a trophy to Newark, the bond and sisterhood remains ever strong.

Dickey, who was recruited to the Blue Hens program by former head coach Natasha Adair, visited Arizona last February to see Adair (Arizona State’s new head coach), former teammate Lizzie Oleary (now on Adair’s staff) and current Sun Devils guard Tyi Skinner (a Delaware-to-ASU transfer).

The senior class that Dickey graduated with includes the likes of Oleary, Ty Battle (playing overseas in London), Paris McBride and Tee Johnson. A plan is in the works to take a group trip to Arizona this summer to visit Adair and some of the former Delaware coaching staff and players.

Underclassmen played a large part in Delaware’s success while Dickey was a Blue Hen, and the now-WNBA player was constantly hyping up one of her good friends from the program, senior Makayla Pippin, on Twitter during Delaware’s season.

“That’s my girl,” Dickey said of Pippin. “I was so happy, seeing [women’s basketball information director] Nicole [Sasu-Twum] saying she’s a double-double machine, I was very happy for her. I text her all the time, telling her good luck for the games. I’m super proud of her.”

Jasmine Dickey (#20, left) is still close friends with Makayla Pippin (right), proof of the lasting connection from the women’s basketball program at Delaware.
Patrick LaPorte/THE REVIEW

And for Dickey, she may be onto bigger and better stages basketball-wise, but the deep friendships made at Delaware weren’t just temporary.

“My first year coming into Delaware, this is like a family-oriented place,” Dickey said. “Like it’s about business at the end of the day because we’re trying to win. But our culture is so tight. We’re locked in, and when I say locked in, we’re locked in for life.”

Improving her game

The work never stops for the Delaware star who is preparing for her sophomore campaign this spring. She knew she would have to make a mark last year to garner a roster spot – and that she did. But with a league as small as the WNBA, there’s no time wasted on being stagnant.

Honing in her effectiveness on the deadly midrange jumper that Blue Hens fans are quite familiar with, and working on her outside shot are two areas she’s had focus towards.

“I think I just need to continue to do what I do, being a perfectionist at it, like the midrange or attacking the basket,” Dickey said. “I’ve definitely been working on my handles a whole lot more. Overall, just perfecting the things that I’m good at, to where it’s like unstoppable in a sense.

“If I’m wide open, I’m going to hit this three. I can make it and I’m going to believe that I can make it and it’s going in, period. I even do it here [in Italy], like I’ve been getting a whole lot better with the threes. It’s there. But I’m not going to shoot it that often. And when I’m open, I’m definitely going to knock it down.”

With a year of WNBA experience and time to improve her game, the future is bright for one of Delaware’s most accomplished athletes. 

However, in the end, it’s just basketball, like it was at Catonsville High School, and like it was at the university.

“Honestly, we just hooping,” Dickey said. “I just want to hoop at the end of the day. I started playing better, I started feeling better. I don’t even think that much about the game. Now I just clear my mind before the game and I just go out and hoop. At the end of the day, it’s basketball and one team gonna win, one team gonna lose. And I’m trying to win.”




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