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Former Colonial Plays for WNBA
August 15, 2011
Alumna Jessica Adair realizes her hoop dreams with the Minnesota Lynx.
By Jesse Hooker
For District native and GW alumna Jessica Adair, B.A. ’09, the hardwood desktop in her D.C. nonprofit office just didn’t compare to life on the basketball hardwood. Now, more than two years after nearly giving up on her dream of playing professionally, Ms. Adair says she’ll be overwhelmed when she returns to her home city as a member of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.
“There aren't really words to describe that feeling,” says Ms. Adair, whose Minnesota team is scheduled to play the Washington Mystics at Verizon Center on Thursday. “If I had to choose [a word], I'd have to say overwhelming. To be able to play in my hometown, in front of people who know me and who have helped me get to this point, overwhelms me with joy and excitement.”
Ms. Adair is in her first full season with the Lynx after playing in the 2010 regular-season finale with the club and resigning this past February.
She has slowly worked her way into a consistent reserve role for the Western-Conference leading Lynx, who won nine consecutive games earlier this season and feature All-Stars Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus. “My ultimate goal for the Lynx this season is to win a WNBA championship, and I believe we have the talent and personnel to do it,” said Ms. Adair.
Ms. Adair has played in 20 of Minnesota’s 23 games so far this season, including a start against the Tulsa Shock on June 30, and is averaging 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in eight minutes per game.
“Playing professional basketball has been a goal of mine since I began playing in elementary school, and accomplishing a lifelong goal such as this is truly indescribable,” said Ms. Adair. “Playing alongside players that I used to watch on TV growing up, like Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes, is incredible to me. I still find myself a little star struck at times.”
Jessica came to GW with her twin sister Jazmine in 2005 from Anacostia, a historic but often troubled area of the District. The duo thrived in Foggy Bottom, especially Jessica, who earned First Team All-Atlantic 10 accolades in each of her final three seasons. The Colonials posted back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances in 2007 and 2008 with Jessica anchoring the post.
Her most memorable performance came in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament when she scored 15 points and hauled in 21 rebounds, the fourth-most ever recorded in an NCAA tournament game, in a victory over Boise State. Ms. Adair went on to score 1,475 points and grab 770 rebounds during her four seasons, joining an exclusive list of just nine Colonials who have more than 1,000 points and 700 boards in their career.
Her lifelong goal of playing in the pros appeared to be accomplished back in 2009 when she was drafted 34th overall by the Phoenix Mercury in that year’s WNBA draft. However, she was waived before ever suiting up for the Mercury and found herself contemplating life after basketball.
“When I was waived, I had a minor breakdown and started to think that basketball may not be my calling,” said Ms. Adair. “I went to work at a nonprofit in the [D.C.] area, and it just wasn’t as fulfilling to me as basketball had been, so I dedicated the next year to my body.”
Since that epiphany, Adair has remained dedicated – she consistently works out and has eliminated red meat, pork, white-bread products and sweets from her diet – and it has helped her realize her dream. The 6-foot-4 center has shed nearly 60 pounds from her playing days at GW, down to a sleek 210 pounds.
With the help of former GW head coach Joe McKeown, who mentored current Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, Adair found herself back trying out for the pro ranks with Minnesota in 2010. Despite being cut in the preseason, Ms. Adair stayed in shape and was recalled for the final game of the regular season.
“Coach Reeve’s parting words after the final game were, ‘Just keep working hard. Go overseas and do your best, and we will bring you back to camp next season,’” Ms. Adair remembered. “So I went to Turkey and had a really good season averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Coach Reeve kept her word and brought me back. I worked hard for three years, and here I am.”
Now that she’s achieved the goal of a lifetime, Ms. Adair plans to take full advantage of her singular opportunity.
“During my time in the WNBA, I want to soak up as much knowledge about the game as I can and just compete,” said Ms. Adair. “I love the competitiveness of the game at this level, so I just want to play as long as I can and have a blast doing it.”
For fans interested in supporting Ms. Adair in her homecoming game, please visit www.WashingtonMystics.com for tickets as low as $16.
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