WNBA rookie Natisha Hiedeman aka ‘Swaggy’ goes from the BIG EAST to the big stage in the WNBA

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 29: Natisha Hiedeman #2 of the Connecticut Sun handles the ball against the Washington Mystics during Game One of the 2019 WNBA Finals on September 29, 2019 at the St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

All gas, no breaks! Named after a basketball legend as a child, Hiedeman is ready to forge her own path

WASHINGTON — Before tip-off to Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, the Connecticut Sun flood the visitor locker room with the sounds of All Night Long by YFN Lucia featuring Trey Songz. Half the team has already made their way to the court for warm-ups. I make a beeline for Hiedeman. She seems a bit surprised until I mention I cover the BIG EAST. She instantly lights up and shakes my extended hand and introduces herself.

The WNBA rookie won two conference titles with the Marquette Golden Eagles, helping transform both the program and the conference. She was drafted 18th overall in the second round by Minnesota. Within minutes, her rights were traded to the Connecticut Sun for Lexie Brown. The Green Bay, Wisconsin-native headed to training camp in Connecticut. Miller liked what he saw in Hiedeman, but didn’t have a spot for the rookie at the time.

“I got cut on the last day,” the rookie told High Post Hoops Sunday. She returned home to Wisconsin before being called in by the Atlanta Dream. With guard Alex Bentley away for EuroBasket, the Marquette star was able to find her way back onto a professional roster. When Bentley returned, Hiedeman was gone. Another professional opportunity had come to an end.

“I’d just been back and forth, back and forth. But, being cut actually helped me a lot because it just helped me accept failure and want to work harder to get to where I want to be,” reflected Hiedeman.

She was just a few days before the Sun announced they added her back to the roster. Miller lost veteran guard Layshia Clarendon to what was deemed a season-ending ankle injury.

“Literally, like days after that Connecticut had called me back. And I’ve been with them ever since. So I’ve just been back and forth, back and forth,” she said.

If her nickname, Tee-Spoon, sounds familiar, it is in part by design. Since she can remember, Hiedeman was called Tee. As she tells it, the spoon was added once her family realized she’d grow up to be a baller.

“She’s a WNBA legend, she played in the league and my parents just had this feeling I was gonna play basketball. So everybody had called me Tee in my family. So then they had called me teaspoon after her, but spelled a little bit different, but that’s where it came from. Honestly, it’s crazy to be named after her. But yeah, that’s where it’s from,” Hiedeman said.

And why not? There are certainly worse things and people to be compared to than a pioneer, an NCAA champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and a Naismith Hall of Famer.

Hiedeman was born three months before the WNBA tipped off in Los Angeles. The Sparks hosted Teresa “T-Spoon” Weatherspoon and the New York Liberty, and made history. She was two-years-old when Spoon hit “the shot”. But perhaps Hiedeman was being groomed to make history of her own.

She is the third Marquette player drafted and the first to play in the WNBA Finals. After Sunday’s 95-86 loss, she will also be expected to clock more than three minutes off the bench.

“We left some points on the board, missing some shots there as we got a little bit tired, and I need to probably stretch our bench a little bit more,” Miller said from the dais Sunday night. Hiedeman was one of four bench players Miller deployed within the first 20 minutes of the game.

“In the limited minutes they played tonight, they played good,” Miller told High Post Hoops as a follow-up to comments in the press conference. Despite not liking the size matchup defensively tonight, he is expecting to get Hiedeman and others more involved as the series continues for Game 2 Tuesday and Game 3 back in Connecticut October 6.

“When the time came to play Bria today they went big and that really stretches us at the three. Bria’s size is a challenge for her, and Hiedeman also because now you’re switching and sometimes she has to absorb some size to the rim.

Whatever her role, Hiedeman is ready to play it.

”When I’m on the bench, my role is to bring energy, keep everybody hype. And then when I go in behind Jasmine [Thomas], it’s just to try to keep up the same intensity, the same tempo, just get stops and make the smart plays, get my teammates open. So every time I go in, that’s what I try to focus on.”

Hiedeman also felt Connecticut would be all right if they played solid defense and limited Washington’s runs.

“It’s going to be a game of runs. And we just got to be able to handle that. When they punch us and when there’s adversity, [we need] to be able to come back and overcome that.”

The Sun didn’t do that in the first ten minutes of the game Sunday and quickly fell into a 30-17 hole. Connecticut outscored the Mystics in the second and fourth quarters, only one point separated the two teams in the third. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done.

”It’s a chess match. What you get from them on the offensive end, you have to counter and what are you going to give up on the defensive end. But both of them are going to be part of this series,” Miller said about Hiedeman and Holmes in particular.

If you do see her around, don’t call her Tee-Spoon. New team, new nickname.

“Swaggy. I got a new nickname too, called Swaggy … call me Swaggy tonight,” Hiedeman said with a smile big enough to show her tooth bling, a small gem to the right of her front teeth.

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Album mode🖤💔

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In my own W ö R Ł d 🖤

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Rockstar lifestyle, might not make it 🎸🎶

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Judging by that and her game day looks, her new nickname is well earned.

And she can rhyme!

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Up—C H A T T I N 3:33 a.m

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