By: Steve Miller—Sports Editor
Reeling from a 30-point loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on May 20, Ally Malott sat, ice on her elbow, in the Washington Mystics locker room. “It’s been kind of a rough [start] of the season for me, personally,” she said.
Malott, the 6’4” forward who graduated from Dayton in 2015, had already suffered two injuries during the young season that began May 14. The loss to the Sparks was the third consecutive defeat the Mystics had been handed to start the year, and Malott was just one of the many players on the team looking for answers.
While 2016 may not be a dream season thus far, 2015 was a whirlwind and a half for Malott, who went from the Elite Eight of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament to the WNBA playoffs in a matter of months.
At the eighth overall pick in the WNBA Draft last year, Malott was the highest professional draft selection of a UD student-athlete since 1956. She began her professional career just weeks after her graduation.
She played in 24 games last season for the Mystics, all off the bench, and only averaged 3.3 PPG—but averaged 43.3% from the three-point line and is looking to improve.
“It’s a lot faster, and more physical,” she said of the professional style of play as opposed to what she experienced in college. “I’m a shooter…and [I’m] trying to help the team as much as I can.”
Malott seemed to hit her stride last June when she played a career-high 22 minutes in a game against Tulsa and recorded 13 points, another career-best that still stands for her.
After the Mystics were eliminated from the postseason in September, Malott turned her focus to keeping her skills honed in the offseason.
“I was in Turkey for two months, and then I came back and worked out at home,” Malott said. “It was different, I can’t say I loved it. But I’m going to try to go back somewhere next year and hopefully have a little better of an experience.”
While she didn’t elaborate on her experience in Turkey or where she’d like to play after the 2016 WNBA season, she did say that her agent is actively looking for overseas teams for her.
It’s common for WNBA players, even stars, to play on teams overseas in the off months as the WNBA season runs from May to September.
But for Malott, just getting to the professional level was a dream come true.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I love the team, and D.C. is a lot different from where I’m from,” said the Middleton, OH native.
Unfortunately, though, injuries have thus far plagued her 2016 campaign.
“Early in training camp she got hurt, the first or second day, and missed almost 10 days of camp,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said. “And as soon as she gets back and plays two or three days she gets hurt again. So in totality, in a month’s time, she’s only really been in practice about five days. That’s pretty difficult.”
The second injury he alluded to was an arm sprain she suffered from a fall during their season opening game against the New York Liberty on May 14th. She was luckily able to return and play 16 minutes against the Sparks six days later.
Thibault scouted Malott for her four years at Dayton.
“She’s improved in her ball handling, we’ve been playing her more on the perimeter,” he said about her progression. “But there’s no rhythm to her game, you just can’t have rhythm when you don’t get a chance to be in the gym and practice every day.”
The Mystics, now 2-4, have begun to get their season back on track, and Malott looks forward to being a part of the team’s success.
“Throughout the year your main goal is to advance to the postseason,” said Malott, who got a taste of it last year. “It’s been a rough start for us, but it’s still our goal.”