Shoni Schimmel, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and the highest-ever Native American draft pick by the W.N.B.A., has attracted a fan base through flashy play and by embracing her heritage that she calls “rez ball," The New York Times says in a profile of Schimmel published today.
“Just have that killer instinct and go out there and just play whatever you’re feeling,” Schimmel told the Times. “Hey, you’re open? Pull up. Throw a behind-the-back pass? Why not?”
Schimmel was raised on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Eastern Oregon, but the family moved when Schimmel was a teen. She played basketball first for Hermiston High School then for Franklin High School in Portland. She went on to play for the Cardinals at the University of Louisville.
The WNBA's Atlanta Dream picked up Schimmel in the first round last night.
The Times reports:
“For me to kind of have that flair to my game, I think it’s definitely going to bring a lot more to the W.N.B.A., because I’m not just your robotic basketball player,” said Schimmel, who averaged a team-high 17.1 points and 3.8 assists for Louisville this past season. “I like to mix it up.”
During Schimmel’s freshman year, Louisville began to realize her impact. Native Americans from around the Pacific Northwest attended the Cardinals’ N.C.A.A. regional semifinal in Spokane, Wash. On road games, Schimmel and her sister, Jude, who was named one of Glamour magazine’s top 10 college women last week and will be a senior next season for Louisville, would often sign autographs for up to three hours after the final buzzer. In 2011, the Schimmels were featured in a documentary, “Off the Rez.”
At Shoni Schimmel’s senior night March 3, a crowd of 22,163, including Native Americans from about 40 states, some from as far away as Alaska, watched her final regular-season game. Afterward, she met with fans for more than four hours.