Aces rookie guard Jackie Young didn’t take a shot in the first half of her WNBA debut Sunday.
Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer didn’t have a problem with that, either.
Young has impressed Laimbeer with her maturity and patience as she continues her adjustment to the speed and pace of the WNBA. She scored all eight of her points in the second half of an 83-70 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks at Mandalay Bay Events Center and is easing into her role on the roster — and in one of the league’s most talented starting lineups.
“I was just trying to figure everything out,” said Young, drafted No. 1 overall in April out of Notre Dame. “Second half, I was a little bit more aggressive just playing my game. Doing what I work on every day in practice. It was just settling in.”
The Aces drafted Young in part for her versatility and ability to impact games without scoring. Laimbeer installed her into the starting lineup early in training camp and is satisfied with her progress.
He said she’s already improved as a perimeter shooter and could thrive as a scorer if the other starters are struggling. She’s also versatile defensively and can play on or off the ball in a variety of lineups.
“Her confidence level is high,” Laimbeer said. “She understands her responsibility and role. Some games are going to be really good. Some games will be, you know, OK. She’s going to make plays at certain times of the game that are needed. She’ll be overshadowed by other scorers, but when other scorers are struggling, she’ll be the one standing there.”
Young said she was nervous before the game, but didn’t appear to be during her 23 minutes on the court. She deferred to teammates A’ja Wilson and Kayla McBride in the first half, but found her openings in the second half and made all four of her field-goal attempts.
She’s playing alongside and against the women she once idolized. And she isn’t fazed by it one bit amid lofty team and individual expectations.
“There’s always a learning curve as a rookie,” McBride said. “What I’m seeing is more confidence, even in practice. She doesn’t really get rattled. You don’t see her nervous or anything like that. That impresses me as well.”