On April 15, former Arizona guard Davellyn Whyte became the Wildcats’ highest draft pick after the San Antonio Silver Stars picked her 16th overall.
Whyte finished school, packed up her things and headed to San Antonio in hopes of impressing the coaches and making the squad.
Four months later, Whyte has played in all 24 games for the Silver Stars, averaging 12.6 minutes per game. Of the 27 rookies in the WNBA, Whyte ranks in the top-10 in five categories: fifth in three-point percentage (0.238), free throw percentage (0.769), and assists (1.5 apg), sixth in steals (0.71 spg) and eighth in blocks (0.29 bpg).
Although Whyte has proven her worth so far, the transition from college basketball to professional basketball has had its ups and downs.
“It has been challenging, but I expected a challenge,” Whyte said. “Anything can happen on any given night and there is always more than just one good player on every team.”
There are specific tweaks Whyte has had to make in order to play at the highest level.
“There are certain things that you just need to do,” Whyte said. “I have had to change my diet—I can’t eat fast food every day anymore.”
At the same time, playing professional basketball has its benefits, one of the most prevalent being no added schoolwork, or stressors associated with school.
“The adjustment from college life hasn’t been too difficult, because I never really lived a typical college life,” Whyte said. “Road trips are different though—especially since we don’t have study hall, or have to worry about school.”
Still, Whyte’s college years are only a few months removed and she thinks about her days at Arizona frequently.
Her four-year career as a Wildcat is arguably the best in women’s basketball history. But while Whyte gave Arizona a record-setting career, she also gained a lot of knowledge in playing for U of A.
“At Arizona, I learned that in order to be successful, you really need to buy into the culture that the coaches enforce,” Whyte said. “That has made the adjustment much easier here.”
Arizona Head Coach Niya Butts wants to instill this culture in every athlete that comes through the program.
“We always try and teach kids to practice the way they play and go about life with a purpose,” Butts said. “Even if they go through tough times, if they take care of everything they’re supposed to and do the right things, good things will happen.”
Whyte has no choice but to reminisce when she talks to Butts—an everyday occurrence. Butts left Whyte with some valuable lessons as well.
“I learned discipline and work ethic from Coach Butts,” Whyte said. “Off the court, I learned that picking my crowd is very important. You need to make sure you’re surrounding yourself with the right people.”
From Butts’ perspective, Whyte is one of those people that she would like her players to be around.
“She is very driven and stubborn,” Butts said. “But this is beneficial, because she can do anything she puts her mind to. When she makes up her mind to do something, no one can stop her. She is motivated by wanting to get better.”
As Whyte embarks on the last month and a half of the season, she looks forward to coming back to Tucson as much as she can.
“I have only had time to come back once,” Whyte said. “I would like to come back as much as I can and see everybody.”
And she is missed in Tucson, but the relationships that she built while she was here remain strong.
“Her success at the next level reflects her character,” Butts said. “She may not be the loudest in the room, but she is the most observant in the room. She listens, watches, takes it all in and applies what she has been told. She is a tough kid and will always be my kid.”