Sami Whitcomb

Samantha Allison Whitcomb (born July 20, 1988) is an American-Australian professional basketball player for the New York Liberty of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She played college basketball for the Washington Huskies before making a name for herself in Australia with the Rockingham Flames in the State Basketball League (SBL) and the Perth Lynx in the Women's National Basketball League (WNBL). She made her debut in the WNBA in 2017 and won championships with the Seattle Storm in 2018 and 2020. She became an Australian citizen in 2018 and made her debut for the Australian Opals.

Sami Whitcomb
Sami Whitcomb - Perth Lynx.JPG
Whitcomb in January 2018
No. 33 – New York Liberty
PositionShooting guard
LeagueWNBA
Personal information
Born (1988-07-20) July 20, 1988 (age 32)
Ventura, California
NationalityAmerican / Australian
Listed height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Listed weight145 lb (66 kg)
Career information
High schoolBuena (Ventura, California)
CollegeWashington (2006–2010)
WNBA draft2010 / Undrafted
Playing career2010–present
Career history
2011–2012ChemCats Chemnitz
2012–2013Wolfenbüttel Wildcats
2013–2016Rockingham Flames
2013ŠKBD Rücon
2015–2018Perth Lynx
20172020Seattle Storm
2018Willetton Tigers
2018–2020Basket Lattes
2021–presentNew York Liberty
Career highlights and awards
Medals
Basketball
Representing  Australia
FIBA World Cup
Silver medal – second place 2018 Spain

Early lifeEdit

Born and raised in Ventura, California, Whitcomb played soccer as a child before taking up basketball at age 12.[1] Her parents divorced when she was young, and through basketball she was able to keep a close relationship with her father despite spending less time together.[2]

High school careerEdit

Whitcomb attended Ventura's Buena High School, where she was a four-year letterwinner and one-year team captain for the basketball team. She won numerous awards during her time at Buena, including the 2004–05 Co-County Player of the Year from the league coaches and the Ventura County Star's 2005–06 Girls' Basketball Player of the Year. She also helped her team win three Channel League titles as a sophomore, junior and senior. As a senior in 2005–06, she averaged 17.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game.[3]

Whitcomb was also a two-time letterwinner in track and field during her sophomore and junior years. In 2005, she placed second in the league in shot put and first in the county for seeded throwers.[3]

College careerEdit

As a freshman at Washington in 2006–07, Whitcomb appeared in 21 games and received four starting assignments. She missed eight games mid-season after suffering a broken right hand during practice. She led the team with an 81.0 free-throw shooting percentage (17-for-21), was fourth on the squad with 15 three-pointers made, and averaged 4.3 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.[3]

As a sophomore in 2007–08, Whitcomb's role on the team increased dramatically as she appeared in all 31 games and received 30 starting assignments. Her production subsequently increased and she was rewarded for her efforts with a Pac-10 All-Defensive honorable mention team selection. She also earned Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention honors. Her 11.2 points per game were ranked second on the team, while her 62 steals was a team high and her 74 assists were also second. On January 4, 2008, she recorded a near triple-double with nine points, nine steals and seven rebounds against Washington State. Her nine steals were two away from matching the UW school record. Six days later, she recorded her first career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds against UCLA. She was later named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her 24-point scoring output against California on March 2.[3]

As a junior in 2008–09, Whitcomb appeared in all 30 games while starting 29 of them. She earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors and was named to the Pac-10 All-Defensive honorable mention team for a second-straight season. She also earned Pac-10 All-Academic second team honors. She led the Huskies in scoring (12.8 ppg), steals (2.3 spg), three-pointers made (54) and free-throws made (71), while she was second in rebounding (3.9 rpg) and third in assists (1.2 apg). On January 31, 2009, she scored a then career-high 29 points against Arizona State.[3]

As a senior in 2009–10, Whitcomb started all 31 games and earned All-Pac-10 selection and Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention honors. She averaged a career-best 13.0 points per game, set a personal high with 175 rebounds, and was named Pac-10 Player of the Week on December 28, 2009. She went on to score a career-high 32 points against Washington State on January 29, 2010.[3][4]

In her four-year career at Washington, Whitcomb scored 1,205 points, a mark that ranks 15th all-time in the program's history. She graduated from Washington with a degree in history.[3]

College statisticsEdit

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2006–07 Washington 21 4 13.7 .377 .278 .810 1.6 .8 .8 .0 4.3
2007–08 Washington 31 30 27.9 .375 .335 .676 4.1 2.4 2.0 .1 11.2
2008–09 Washington 30 29 29.7 .368 .329 .772 3.9 1.2 2.3 .3 12.8
2009–10 Washington 31 31 31.7 .397 .359 .858 5.6 2.5 1.5 .2 13.0
Career 113 94 26.8 .389 .333 .766 4.0 1.8 1.7 .2 10.6

Professional careerEdit

WNBAEdit

After going undrafted in the 2010 WNBA draft, Whitcomb signed a training camp contract with the Chicago Sky on April 25, 2010. She was waived by the Sky on May 9 after appearing in two WNBA preseason games.[5] Despite considering signing in Switzerland, Whitcomb did not play professionally during the 2010–11 season, deciding instead to join her college team's coaching staff as a video coordinator.[6]

On February 8, 2017, Whitcomb signed with the Seattle Storm ahead of the 2017 WNBA season.[7][8][9] In her debut on May 13, she recorded three points and three rebounds in just under seven minutes off the bench in a 78–68 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks.[10] On May 26, she scored a career-high 22 points and hit six three-pointers in 15 minutes off the bench in an 87–81 win over the New York Liberty.[11][12] Her six second-half three-pointers tied the WNBA record for most three-pointers in a half.[13] In 34 games in 2017, she averaged 4.4 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 12.2 minutes per game.[14]

On February 1, 2018, Whitcomb re-signed with the Storm on a multi-year deal.[15][16] She averaged 2.9 points and 8.5 minutes in 31 games during the regular season,[14] before averaging 6.2 points and 12.5 minutes in six games throughout the playoffs,[17] helping the Storm win the WNBA championship with a 3–0 sweep over the Washington Mystics in the Finals.[18]

With the Storm in 2019, Whitcomb averaged 7.1 points, 1.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 35 games.[14]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 WNBA season was reduced to a 22-game regular season at IMG Academy, without fans present.[19] Whitcomb appeared in all 22 games for the Storm.[20] On August 12, 2020, she tied her career high for 3-pointers in a game with six to finish with a season-high 20 points in a 100–63 win over the Atlanta Dream.[21] After appearing in all three games of the Storm's 3–0 semifinal series sweep over the Minnesota Lynx,[20][22] she left the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Florida, and returned to Perth, Australia, to be with her wife Kate for the birth of their first child.[23] The Storm went on to defeat the Las Vegas Aces 3–0 in the Finals to garner Whitcomb her second WNBA championship.[24] For the season, Whitcomb led Seattle's reserves with a career-high 8.1 points per game alongside 2.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 16.5 minutes.[23]

On February 10, 2021, Whitcomb was acquired by the New York Liberty via sign-and-trade in exchange for the rights to Stephanie Talbot.[25]

EuropeEdit

While initially giving up on a professional career in 2010, Whitcomb still had the urge to play, and in June 2011, Whitcomb signed in Germany with ChemCats Chemnitz for the 2011–12 season.[26] In 22 games, she averaged 11.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

Whitcomb returned to Germany for the 2012–13 season, signing with the Wolfenbüttel Wildcats in July 2012.[27] Wolfenbüttel made the finals in 2012–13 but went bankrupt and couldn't play out the season.[28] In 20 games, she averaged 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.6 steals per game.

For the 2013–14 season, Whitcomb moved to Slovakia to play for ŠKBD Rücon Spišská Nová Ves.[29] In 15 games during Middle European League play between September 29 and December 21, she averaged 15.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.9 steals per game.[30]

Whitcomb was set to return to Germany to play for TSV 1880 Wasserburg in the 2014–15 season,[31] but later asked for the termination of her contract citing the need for a break from playing.[32]

For the 2018–19 season, Whitcomb played for French team Basket Lattes.[33] In December 2018, she scored a season-high 40 points, which included 10 three-pointers.[33] The team finished runners-up in both the French Basketball League and European Cup.[33]

Whitcomb returned to Basket Lattes for the 2019–20 season.[34] She scored a season-high 30 points.[35] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was cut short.[36]

AustraliaEdit

SBLEdit

Following the 2012–13 season in Germany, Whitcomb began travelling through Europe hoping another team would sign her when she received a call to come to Australia to play for the Rockingham Flames in the State Basketball League (SBL).[28] In the 2013 season, Whitcomb was crowned the league's Most Valuable Player and earned All-Star Five honors.[28][37] In 24 games, she averaged 22.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.8 steals per game.[38]

Whitcomb re-joined the Flames for the 2014 season and once again earned MVP and All-Star Five honors. She also guided the Flames through to the SBL Grand Final, where she scored 32 points in an 80–75 win over the Lakeside Lightning to win her first championship and garner grand final MVP honors.[39] In 27 games, she averaged 23.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.6 steals per game.[38]

Whitcomb returned to the Flames in 2015 and helped guide them back to the SBL Grand Final.[40] Her 41 points in the 68–63 win over the Willetton Tigers earned her back-to-back grand final MVPs as the Flames claimed their second consecutive championship.[41][42] For the season, Whitcomb was crowned league MVP and earned All-Star Five honors for the third straight year.[43] In 26 games, she averaged 25.3 points per game.[38]

In her fourth and final season with the Flames in 2016, Whitcomb once again earned All-Star Five honors[44] and averaged 24.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.8 steals in 25 games.[38]

In 2018, Whitcomb had a three-week stint with the Willetton Tigers and subsequently won three straight Player of the Week awards.[45]

WNBLEdit

 
Whitcomb's worn playing singlet from the 2016 WNBL Grand Final
 
Whitcomb signing autographs in October 2017

In May 2015, Whitcomb signed with the Perth Lynx for the 2015–16 WNBL season.[46] She earned eight Team of the Week recognitions,[47] was named Player of the Week for Round 3,[48] and helped the Lynx reach their first WNBL Grand Final since 1999.[49] In the grand final series, the Lynx were defeated 2–0 by the Townsville Fire despite Whitcomb's 20 points in game one and 15 points in game two.[50][51] For the season, Whitcomb earned WNBL All-Star Five honors[52] and finished third in MVP voting.[53] She appeared in all 27 games for the Lynx in 2015–16, averaging 19.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

Whitcomb re-joined the Lynx for the 2016–17 season and earned Player of the Week honors for Round 3,[54] Player of the Month honors for October,[55] and had 13 Team of the Week recognitions.[56] Her 23.6 points and 2.8 steals per game were first in the WNBL for the regular season, while her 91 three-pointers set a WNBL single-season record. Her 567 total points was also the second best mark ever set in the WNBL regular season—Penny Taylor had 570 in 2002.[57] In the semi-finals, Whitcomb scored a career-high 41 points.[58] She was named to the WNBL All-Star Five for the second consecutive season, after delivering the greatest scoring season in league history. She tallied 652 points throughout her 27 games, the highest single season points total in the WNBL's 36-year history. She finished the season with averages of 24.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, while knocking down 105 three-pointers throughout the year, besting her own WNBL record for most three-pointers made in a season.[59]

Whitcomb returned to the Lynx for a third season in 2017–18[60][61] and was named co-captain.[62] She helped the Lynx record their first 10-game win streak since 1993,[63][64] with the streak finally ending after 14 straight wins culminating in claiming the minor premiership with a first-place finish and a 15–6 record.[65][66] For the season, she earned one Player of the Week award,[67] five Team of the Week selections,[68] and All-Star Five honors for the third consecutive season.[69] She appeared in all 23 games for the Lynx in 2017–18, averaging 17.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game. She parted ways with the Lynx following the season.[70]

Whitcomb made a return to the Lynx in June 2020, signing for the 2020–21 season.[71][72] However, on November 4, 2020, she opted out of joining the Lynx for the WNBL Hub season in Queensland in order to be alongside her wife in Perth for the birth of their first child.[73]

National team careerEdit

In May 2017, Whitcomb applied for Australian citizenship. She qualified after meeting the criteria of living in Australia for at least four years and being a permanent resident for at least 12 months. But the process had stalled by June because of the challenges associated with applying from overseas.[74] In December 2017, she was added to the Australian Opals squad ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with her Australian citizenship application approval imminent.[75] On February 1, 2018, Whitcomb was naturalized at a ceremony in Perth before flying to Italy the next day for the Opals' training camp.[76] She ultimately missed out on making the final squad.[77] In September 2018, she was added to the Opals squad for the 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, replacing the injured Leilani Mitchell.[78] She won a World Cup silver medal with the Opals.[33] In June 2019, she was selected to the Opals' Asia Cup training squad.[33]

Personal lifeEdit

Whitcomb is the daughter of Jan and Sander, and has an older brother, Jason. Her great uncle, Roy Schmidt, played in the NFL with the Falcons, Packers and Redskins in the 1960s and 1970s.[3]

Whitcomb married her long-time partner Kate in the U.S. in 2017. The couple then had their marriage recognised in Australia when same-sex marriage laws changed.[76] The couple had their first child in November 2020.[79][80]

ReferencesEdit

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  80. ^ O'Donoghue, Craig (November 24, 2020). "WA basketball star Sami Whitcomb's baby joy alongside wife Kate Malpass as son Nash is born". TheWest.com.au. Retrieved November 26, 2020.

External linksEdit