Throughout the first few days of training camp, Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon and rookie forward Mya Hollingshed had yet to engage in any rivalry trash talk.
Hammon is a legendary former player from Colorado State, while Hollingshed is just a few weeks removed from her stellar career at Colorado.
Despite playing collegiately at rival schools, Hammon and Hollingshed are intrigued by what they can do together with the WNBA’s Aces.
“I told her when I met her, I had no hard feelings drafting a Buffalo,” said Hammon, who starred at CSU from 1995-99. “The big draw with her was obviously her size, her ability to step back and hits 3s. We saw her fill a void in our four-man slot. We wanted to add some things to that position. I think she has a really high ceiling.”
Like Hollingshed, Hammon is a rookie with the Aces. An assistant with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs since 2014, Hammon wrapped up her final season with them on April 13 and is now in her first head coaching job.
Hollingshed was selected No. 8 overall in the WNBA draft on April 11 and is now enjoying her first few days as a pro.
“It’s been great,” Hollingshed said. “It’s been a lot of things that (the rookies) have all been learning. It’s been a faster pace for sure. That’s the biggest thing I’ve realized. It’s something that we all are willing to fight towards, buy into what (Hammon) has been talking about since training camp has started.”
About a month ago, Hollingshed and the Buffs were playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. Now, she’s going through camp with a new set of teammates that includes WNBA stars A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum – as well as learning from Hammon.
“Every day I’m looking towards what’s to come, what’s going to happen, what’s next,” Hollingshed said. “Our heads were kind of spinning walking in Day 1 just because these are people you typically see on TV and now you’re seeing them every day in practice and going at it with them in practice and building those relationships. Especially Becky Hammon, someone who’s been in the (NBA). She’s seen things and also played. Just having her start out here as my first coach, I think I wouldn’t want to learn from anybody else right now but her. It’s been great all around.”
The only player in the Pac-12 to lead her team in scoring, rebounding and 3-point shooting this season, Hollingshed has a skillset that intrigued Hammon and the Aces. Hammon said Hollingshed could be versatile as a bigger small forward and also as a stretch power forward.
“We feel like Mya had a tremendous upside, very high ceiling,” Hammon said. “We love the way she shot the ball in college. Right now her head is probably spinning a little bit. We’ve thrown a lot at her in the last 3 days. It’s a work in progress. … We feel like we have a good system in place for her to learn and definitely have an eye towards her development over the years for sure to make sure she gets to the spots and gets the work and the attention that she needs to be the type of player she wants to be and that we think she can be.”
For now, Hollingshed is soaking up all she can learn from Hammon, Plum, Wilson and other veterans.
“I just can’t stop saying, ‘It’s been great,’” she said.
As for the lack of trash talking, Hammon joked, “I have not talked any trash to her because I was undefeated against CU during my tenure. We never lost and part of that could be that we never played them during my tenure. All four years I never got to play against CU.”
During the first 46 seasons of CU women’s basketball, the Buffs played the Rams at least once in 41 of those seasons – the only exception being a five-year gap from the 1994-95 season through Hammon’s senior year, 1998-99.
The only other seasons in which the Buffs and Rams haven’t played are the last two seasons. Hollingshed did go 3-0 against the Rams before the rivalry paused, however.