The loss of former UW point guard Tameiya Sadler to the University of Colorado Buffaloes was a major blow to the Washington Women’s Basketball program.
The lack of point guard depth on the UW roster is evident with one point guard, transfer Grace Beasley, with no PAC-12 playing experience; and senior Missy Peterson, the team’s best three-point shooter who is returning from a torn ACL, who may be better suited off-ball.
Recently, multiple high major point guards have found new homes via the NCAA Transfer Portal.
Yet names of point guard prospects remain, and appear in the NCAA Transfer Portal, giving Tina Langley potential options for shoring up the Huskies’ point guard position for the 2021-22 season.
Yet, the Huskies cannot just add any point guard, ideally, she should be smart, athletic, experienced, have an Assist-to-Turnover ratio above 1.0, be efficient on open 3-pointers, and tough (because body-checking is a PAC-12 guard art form).
This is not an easy task and it severely limits the possibilities for Washington to find point guard relief in the transfer portal.
Here, we compare two possible point guard options: Jasmine Smith of Rice versus Jordan Hamilton of Northwestern.
THE FAMILIAR: JASMINE SMITH, JUNIOR – RICE UNIVERSITY
With recent news that Jasmine Smith — UW Coach Tina Langey’s former starting point guard at Rice University — entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, we turn our attention to Smith’s possible transfer to Washington to solve the Huskies’ point guard conundrum.
Smith, a 5’7″ junior, is quick, smart, hits the open three and was tough enough to record 4.9 rebounds per game in the 2020-2021 season.
Smith also averaged 9.8 points, 4.1 Assists, and 1.5 steals per game.
As a distributor, Smith posted a very impressive 1.52 Assist-to-Turnover Ratio last season.
Smith is also a three-level scorer at the point position.
Last season, Smith shot an impressive 36.5% from three-point range, as well as 51.8% from two-point range.
Digging deeper, Jasmine Smith was rated in the top 30% of pick-and-roll ballhandlers averaging .781 points, per Synergy.
At Rice, the pick-and-roll (PNR) was Smith’s second most frequent play type — she was the PNR ballhandler 20.8% of the time she was on the court.
This is crucial because winning in the PAC-12 requires efficiency in running Pick-and-Roll/ball-screen actions.
Overall, Synergy rates Jasmine Smith in the Top 25% nationally against both man-to-man (player-to-player) and zone defenses. Smith averages .827 points per possession against man defense and .926 ppp against zone defense.
During the Wynn era, the Huskies overwhelmingly faced player-to-player defenses; however, expect an uptick in opponent zone defense with the addition of 6’9″ Nancy Mulkey to the Huskies.
Jasmine Smith is a viable option but some concerns are:
(1) Smith is unexpectedly poor in transition at only 0.75 ppp which ranks in the Bottom 30% nationally.
Having reviewed game film it is apparent that Jasmine Smith has plenty of speed pushing the ball up the court, but she is not a finisher in transition.
So, if there was no obvious assist opportunity, Smith pulled the ball back out and reset the offense.
Also, Rice lacked elite transition scorers and were often unable to convert a potential assist from Smith by attacking the basket, rather three-point shots in transition were much more common.
These factors worked together to suppress Smith’s points per (transition) possesion; and
(2) Smith is unexpectedly poor in converting mid-range shots (less than 17 feet) in the halfcourt offense, ranking in the Bottom 15% at 0.429 points per possession.
Although not necessarily a dealbreaker since efficiency on open threes is more highly valued in the PAC-12, it is one less offensive weapon for PAC-12 defenses to worry about.
JASMINE SMITH – RICE UNIVERSITY
THE GRADUATE: JORDAN HAMILTON, NORTHWESTERN
Jordan Hamilton is a 5’8″ point guard that came to Northwestern as a 4-star, 2018 ESPN top-100 recruit (#95) out of Texas — so Coach Langley may have some familiarity.
Hamilton started in all 25 games during her 2020-2021 senior season.
Although Hamilton has never been a high scoring guard, she averaged a career best 9.0 points per game last season.
This is actually a plus, since the Huskies will have plenty of shooters and scorers with the arrival of the 2021 freshman class.
More importantly, Jordan Hamilton is a winner.
In her junior year, Hamilton and Northwestern won the Big Ten and last season, as a senior, made it to the NCAA tournament.
Equally as important, Jordan Hamilton is a proven high major defender at the point guard position.
Hamiton ranked in the Top 10% nationally with an average of 1.7 steals per game; as well as, ranking in the Top 20% nationally with 0.6 blocks per game.
Jordan Hamilton finished her Northwestern career with 160 steals and 60 blocked shots, further cementing her status as a top notch defender.
As a ballhandler and distributor against high major competition, Hamilton had an impressive 1.48 Assist-to-Turnover ratio which ranked in the Top 12% last season.
Hamilton also averages 3.2 rebounds per game.
Jordan Hamilton is only average as a three-level scored from the point position.
Last season, Hamilton shot only 26.5% from three-point range (less than her 30.7% career average), as well as 39.9% from two-point range.
However, Jordan Hamilton was rated in the top 35% of pick-and-roll ballhandlers averaging .738 points, per Synergy.
At Northwestern, the pick-and-roll (PNR) was Hamilton’s third most frequent play type — she was the PNR ballhandler 12.9% of the time she was on the court.
Hamilton is also rated as good in transition offense, ranking in the Top 40% nationally at 0.954 points per (transition) possession.
Thus, Hamilton offers efficiency both in running Pick-and-Roll/ball-screen actions, as well as transition offense.
Of some concern, Synergy rates Jordan Hamilton as relatively average against both man defense (Bottom 31%) and zone defenses (Bottom 28%) based on points per possession.
However, when Assists are factored in to her halfcourt efficiency Hamilton’s rankings jump to Top 40% in overall halfcourt offense (man + zone defense combined) with an average points per possession of 0.982 ppp.
This underscores the fact the Hamilton is not a scoring point guard, rather she is primarily a defender and a facilitator.
Finally, Jordan Hamilton’s recent track record against elite competition is highlighted by her season high 17 points versus Louisville in the 2021 NCAA tournament — Hamilton scored 12 points in the first quarter.
JORDAN HAMILTON – NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
Last season, Hamilton also scored 19 points versus Iowa (an eventual Sweet 16 finalist).
Hamilton has proven herself against high major competition, such that her skill level, athleticism and toughness cannot be questioned as transferable to the PAC-12.
WHICH IS THE POINT FOR UW?
A head coach’s relationship with their point guard is probably the most vital individual relarionship to a team’s success.
Tina Langley already has a relationship with Jasmine Smith that could bring her some comfort in achieving her main goal of implementing winning culture and strategy at Washington.
That alone could be sufficient to bring Jasmine Smith to Washington.
Yet Smith has only occasionally been tested against high major competition which skews her stats and projected effectiveness.
Facing PAC-12 guards and opposing defenses every night is, literally and figuratively, a whole new ballgame.
It may be a small gamble but Smith is still a gamble nonetheless.
On the other hand, Jordan Hamilton is smart, tough and checks enough boxes against high major competition that should make a new coach comfortable with relying on a PAC-12 transfer point guard.
Objectively, Hamilton seems the more proven commodity, but it is Tina Langley’s prerogative to whom she chooses to attach her UW legacy.