Jessica Villaplana considers Emily Engstler a throwback.
From her old-school recreation to rising up enjoying pickup on the playground, the multitalented Louisville ahead from Roosevelt Island is a unique breed of basketball prospect.
“She’s an old soul,” Villaplana, Engstler’s former AAU coach and mentor, stated in a cellphone interview. “She’s not a social media person. She doesn’t really like to text message. She’s not a phone person or into playing video games or anything like that.”
It’s gotten her fairly far.
The 6-foot-1 Engstler, after a powerful four-year faculty career — first at Syracuse and this previous season at Louisville — is ready to change into the best New York City native taken within the WNBA draft since Tina Charles went first general to the Connecticut Sun in 2010. In reality, Charles, together with Epiphanny Prince (fourth general in 2010) have been the final gamers from the 5 boroughs taken within the first spherical.
Engstler, 21, actually obtained her begin on the blacktop at house in Roosevelt Island. It was the place she honed her craft, enjoying with and in opposition to boys after proving to them she belonged on the court docket. She developed toughness and an understanding of the sport going through stronger opponents, and saved going again at the same time as she turned a high highschool recruit and standout faculty participant. Engstler joked that it enabled her to hold, “that New York City in my game.”
“They treated me just like they would’ve treated any other dude, whether that was blocking me or fouling me, and I liked it,” stated Engstler, who averaged career-bests of 11.9 factors, 9.4 rebounds and 37.6 % capturing from 3-point vary for Louisville. “It was cool to be part of a group and be the only girl there that wasn’t treated any differently.”
Villaplana noticed her potential nearly instantly after they got here along with the New York Liberty Belles AAU program and continued at New Heights. Engstler’s IQ stood out instantly. She noticed issues earlier than nearly everybody else. Sometimes, it backfired. Others her age weren’t as superior.
“Her vision on the court, her passing, she was like a quarterback on the court,” Villaplana stated. “She used to get frustrated with her teammates. I was like, ‘it’s not like they don’t want to catch the ball. They don’t see what you see.’ ”
Engstler nonetheless has to pinch herself at this journey, first as a McDonald’s All-American after attending native Catholic excessive faculties Christ the King and St. Francis Prep, then reaching the Final Four this season, and Monday evening turning into knowledgeable. According to Villaplana, Engstler is the kind of one that has to see issues herself earlier than realizing they will occur. Villaplana believed in Engstler greater than she believed in herself.
It wasn’t till just lately Engstler noticed herself going excessive within the draft, following an enormous NCAA Tournament. She just lately had conferences with the Indiana Fever and the Liberty, which maintain the fourth and fifth picks within the draft, respectively.
Now that the second is about to occur, she’s attempting to put together for it. It will all happen in her hometown — at Spring Studios within the Tribeca part of Manhattan — and he or she could have her mother and father, Marilyn and William, Villaplana and Louisville affiliate head coach Stephanie Norman by her facet.
“It’s pretty amazing. I’m extremely excited to see where I end up at the next level,” Engstler stated. “I don’t know where I’m going to be drafted, but wherever it is, I hope I can bring energy and production to the team’s organization and help them win. It’s really why I play.”