#By RENALDO DORSETT
#Tribune Sports Reporter
#The WNBA Draft will continue as planned amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Lashann Higgs hopes to make Bahamian history by becoming the country’s third woman selected.
#The WNBA Draft, presented by State Farm, is scheduled for April 17. The league is expected to host the event virtually without players, guests or media. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce the draft picks live on ESPN with coverage beginning at 7pm.
#“My expectations are to just have fun with it and to realise that where God placed me regardless of the outcome is where I’m meant to be,” Higgs said.
#Like all athletes, the former Texas Longhorns guard and Harbour Island native has struggled to stay active and hone her skills ahead of one of the most important nights in her career.
#“With the limited resources, I would utilise the mini weight room that is set up in my garage as well as the basketball hoop that is outside in the front of my house,” she said.
#“You really are forced to be creative with the workouts and use any and everything that can benefit you.”
#During the draft, the WNBA will honour Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester – who tragically passed away in a helicopter accident on January 26.
#The WNBA also plans to honour the late Kobe Bryant, a passionate advocate of the league, at the draft and during the upcoming season. “The WNBA Draft is a time to celebrate the exceptional athletes whose hard work and dreams are realised with their selections in the draft,” said Engelbert.
#“Safeguarding the health and well-being of our prospects, players, employees and everyone connected to our game as well as the general public is paramount. With that in mind, we will work diligently with our broadcast partner, ESPN, to create a memorable but virtual event that appropriately honours these accomplished athletes.” Ahead of the draft, Higgs signed with Sports International Group (SiG). The agency represents some of the biggest names in WNBA basketball, including Angel McCoughtry, Candace Parker and fellow Bahamian Jonquel Jones.
#“Personally it was a big step for me and them being a well-known agency as well as representing some of the most well-known players in basketball is huge,” Higgs said.
#Jones offered a testimonial on SIG’s website.
#“My experience with SIG has been nothing short of exceptional! Everyone within the agency makes you feel welcomed and it is easy to become enveloped within the family atmosphere. While overseas there is always a representative within the country and having that level of access is unprecedented. Though there are many players under the SIG umbrella I have never once felt neglected or misrepresented. This agency is second to none and I’m so happy I signed with the best.”
#Higgs had her fifth year and senior season cut short when the pandemic forced a cancellation of the NCAA tournament.
#“As a freshman you think this is going to take forever but then when it finally gets there it’s a bittersweet moment because you want to see what else is out there for you but at the same time this is something you’ve been around for four years and in my case five years. I would consider it to be a very blessed moment because I got to finish what I started and I feel like that’s a big moment for me personally because it’s just something I’m proud of for accomplishing,” she told Longhorn TV, “I would hope that my legacy is not so much to basketball, I would hope I leave one to keep fighting in any area of life and to be that light for others however that may be.”
#In November 2018, Higgs was diagnosed with a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee. Through three games, she was averaging 16.3 points, five rebounds and 4.3 assists per game on 56 percent shooting from the field before the season ending injury. Despite her limited time on the floor, she became the 44th player in Texas history to reach the 1000 point plateau when she scored 20 points in a 64-54 win over North Texas.
#In the offseason, The Big 12 approved a hardship waiver for Higgs, making her eligible to return to the Longhorns for a fifth season.
#Higgs entered her senior season projected to be one of the top players in the Big 12 conference and was named to the 10-member Preseason All-Big 12 Team. She came off a junior season where she claimed All-Big 12 Second Team, Big 12 All-Defensive Team, USWBA National Player of the Week and Big 12 Player of the Week.
#“It can be very difficult especially as a person who got injured at the peak of your game, you just begin to realise that this is just life, and it probably won’t be the last time that something difficult will come around. It’s something you have to want and something you have to fight through. Sometimes you’re in the moment and you don’t realise how much a setback can actually be a blessing. That’s how I think of my injury because it allowed me to grow much more mentally and it has prepared me a lot more mentally as well. In the moment you don’t think about what you need to work on as a player but as a person and this injury allowed me to reflect on that.”
#Though sidelined, Higgs received her third selection to the Academic All-Big 12 Teams. She was one of just eight student-athletes in the conference to have at least three selections.
#In 28 games this season, including nine starts, Higgs has averaged 9.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. She scored a season high 19 points off the bench in a 66 – 60 win over the then No. 17 Tenesseee Volunteers, December 8 on the road in Knoxville, Tennessee.
#As a junior, she started 35 games and averaged 12.8 points per game, which ranked third on the team, 3.3 rebounds per game and was third on the squad with 1.4 steals per game. Scored in double figures on 21 occasions, including four 20-plus point performances.
#In her sophomore season, Higgs – the Harbour Island native – averaged eight points, three rebounds, 1.5 assists and one steal in just over 17 minutes per game.
#She built upon the numbers from her freshman season when she averaged 7.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in 13.2 minutes She came to the Longhorns heralded as the preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and was consensus All-American at Cedar Ridge High School (Round Rock, Texas). She emerged as the No. 7-ranked player overall and third-ranked guard in the class of 2015, according to ESPN.com.
#Higgs averaged 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game in her senior season for a Cedar Ridge team that reached the third round of the University Interscholastic League’s Class 6A playoffs in Texas.
#Her list of accolades at the high school level included the USA Today American Family Insurance All-USA First-Team and the Max Preps Girls Basketball All-American Second-Team.
#Higgs’ list of honours for the 2014-15 season also included a Naismith Trophy top-five finalist, Naismith Trophy All-America First Team, McDonald’s All-American, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American, USA Today ALL-USA First Team, Austin American-Statesman Central, Texas Player of the Year, Jordan Brand Classic, Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 6A All-State and University Interscholastic League District 13-6A MVP.