The Michigan women’s basketball team has many resources to develop players into professionals. Whether it’s facilities, coaching staff or level of play, Wolverine athletes are given the opportunity to compete on the next level.
Yet while Michigan has a history of athletes playing overseas, such as LeeAnn Bias, Anne Lemire or Cyesha Goree, they lack a history of players in the WNBA.
But now, two juniors — forward Naz Hillmon and guard Amy Dilk — have a chance to change that. Both started every game during their sophomore year. Dilk was named to the All-Big Ten second team last season and Hillmon is two time All-Big Ten first team.
“In (Hillmon’s) development, her big piece in the offseason has been her face-up game,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “She worked really hard on her ability to get to the rim off the bounce. And her ability to knock down open shots.”
Hillmon will be a key figure for the Wolverines this season. She has terrific back-to-the-basket play and finishes everything around the rim. Her wingspan and height allows her to catch rebounds and lay them up in high pressure situations. In order to make a career in the WNBA, Hillmon’s ability to get to the rim will be key. Not only will she need to knock down layups but also a variety of other shots in the paint.
Dilk also has aspirations of playing at the next level. She has been a starter since she came to Ann Arbor and looks to continue her form this season.
“Amy Dilk, she’s a player who had to become more of a consistent threat on the outside,” Barnes Arico said. “She had the ability last year to knock down threes but she’s worked incredibly hard and is doing extremely well in practice.”
With all that Dilk has already achieved in a Michigan uniform, it’s hard to forget she’s still a developing player. Point guards need to be leaders on and off the court. Dilk’s leadership must evolve in order to prepare for the professional level.
The Sue Birds and Diana Taurasis of the world command the ball from their teammates. They’re loud and demanding on the court. Whether it’s scoring a triple-double, running back on defense or jumping into the stands to save a loose ball, point guards are leaders.
“(Dilk’s) a kid that is capable of having a triple double on any given night,” Barnes Arico said. “And for her to be consistent in those areas and have that consistent motor and to be able to defend all the time are her next challenges.”
Dilk and Hillmon have the ability to pave the way for Wolverines establishing themselves as elite WNBA players. It’s the extra hours in the gym, staying after practice to watch film or working one on one with underclassmen to develop their game that can take them to the next level.
“I think they have tried to take steps in their development,” Barnes Arico said. “That’s going to be an important piece for both of them moving forward because they do have aspirations to play in the WNBA.”
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