CLOSE

Could Iowa's senior all-American pull off an in-game dunk? We investigate here. Dargan Southard, msouthard@gannett.com

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

There wasn’t a lot of pre-draft contact between the WNBA's Dallas Wings and Megan Gustafson. But when Greg Bibb saw the Hawkeyes' star land in his lap at No. 17 overall, he had to pounce.

“We were obviously pleasantly surprised she was available to us,” said Bibb, entering his third season as the Wings’ team president and CEO.

Although Gustafson’s WNBA draft night included a bit of waiting — she was the last prospect selected of the 12 who were invited to New York for the draft — her new home was thrilled to jump on what other squads passed up.

There may be issues concerning Gustafson’s 6-foot-3 size and how it translates to the WNBA, but Dallas isn’t worried.    

“I don’t think it’s any secret. The question is: Does her size translate to the WNBA in terms of post play?” Bibb told HawkCentral late Wednesday night. “And my answer to that is yes, because she is a supremely talented player who I know works extraordinarily hard at her game. I’m excited for her to come into training camp and compete.

“The obvious thing is the numbers themselves, in terms of her offensive production and her efficiency. You watch her play, it’s not hard to see the skill that she has. Her feet are great. She certainly understands angles well and positioning. Her hands are tremendous.”

MORE: Megan Gustafson's Iowa legacy goes far beyond numbers

As Gustafson rose to national prominence late last season and into this one, the humble Port Wing standout toted the Hawkeye brand with her. Becoming the unquestioned face of an Elite Eight program isn’t for everyone, especially if the focus isn’t there. But Gustafson’s demeanor and approach never wavered.

Consider Bibb a fan.    

“To see how she’s led Iowa and taken that burden on and helped that team reach elite status is very impressive,” Bibb said. “Those are the kind of things you look for characteristic-wise and personality-wise — the intangibles that help relate to success in our league.

"Everyone in our league is talented and skilled. So it comes down to the intangibles often. She has that in her makeup.”

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Gustafson joins an organization that’s unsettled at the post. Australian Liz Cambage, a 6-foot-8 center, led Dallas last season with 23.4 points per game, but she has since requested to play elsewhere in 2019.

Behind Cambage, Dallas’ interior scoring primarily came from 6-foot-6 Azurá Stevens (8.8 points per game) 6-foot-3 Glory Johnson (7.8) and 6-foot-1 Kayla Thornton (9.3).

“I think this is a really good opportunity for Megan to come in and compete to earn a roster spot,” Bibb said, “because depending on how the (Cambage situation) all plays out, there could be an opportunity where we’re not very deep at the five.

“She’s got to extend her range and face up to the basket. And then I think for her, it’s going to be defensively, how can she get out and defend the pick-and-roll? That’s a big part of our game. How is she going to deal with the size and physicality of some of the posts in our league? I think she’s got a good shot, because of her competitive nature.”    

That fire will only burn brighter after Gustafson fell a bit Wednesday. She couldn’t be happier, however, with the ultimate destination.

“The wait was not that exciting, but that’s all right,” Gustafson said. “I think it’ll be worth the wait.”  

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE