Scheid is leading the country in three-point shooting percentage, turning herself into a bona fide pro prospect.
The WNBA question had to be asked at some point. In some ways, it was the elephant in the room.
Abi Scheid, No. 18 Northwestern’s senior sharpshooter, has been atop the national leaderboard for three-point percentage for practically the entire season. She hovered above 50% for quite a while, and despite recently sinking down to a more mortal 48.1%, she still leads Wofford’s Chloe Wanink and Bowling Green’s Madisen Parker by almost a full percentage point.
So, has she thought about it? She received the question with an expectant smile.
“It’s a little bit of both (looking towards next year, or focusing on this year), but I do want to focus on the rest of the year,” she said. “But, you know, that question comes up a lot so, of course I’ve been thinking about it and just seeing what opportunities I have.”
Scheid has certainly played herself into some opportunities this season. Coming into 2019-20, she was slated to be an important stretch-five cog in Northwestern’s offense, but likely not as much of a surefire pro prospect. She was a 36.2% three-point shooter before this year’s explosion — respectable, but not likely to garner the attention of many pro scouts.
A statistical jump this drastic almost doesn’t make sense. One might expect a senior to have gradually come into their own as a player, but Scheid’s improvement between her sophomore and junior seasons was just 34.5% to 36.7%.
But then again, Scheid was never considered a three-point specialist until she got to Evanston. She has spoken often about how she was recruited as a traditional center out of high school in Elk River, Minnesota, and that Joe McKeown’s Northwestern coaching staff helped her work to unlock this highly valuable part of her game.
Consider that in her freshman season, 2016-17, she took just 29 three-point attempts, coming exclusively off the bench. This year, as a starter for a team likely to host early round NCAA Tournament games, she has attempted 135, and counting.
But, lest you forget, she is still a five at heart, though she has ceded that role on the floor in many ways this season to fellow senior Abbie Wolf. In fact, she’s the only player listed as a center in the nation’s top 50 three point shooters. On that vaunted list, only Oregon’s Erin Boley matches her height at 6-2. Surrounded by dynamic playmakers like Veronica Burton and Lindsey Pulliam who draw defenders away from her on the perimeter, Scheid has had all the space she needs to develop into a legitimate pro prospect.
McKeown is accustomed to his players drawing pro interest, having most recently sent Nia Coffey to the WNBA in 2017. He, too, recognizes that Scheid’s skillset works best in tandem with talent around her — such is the burden all three-point specialists bear. But it’s no secret at this point that her shooting, rebounding, and distributing (all stats she’s tracking for career highs in this year, combined with her size) definitely play at the next level.
“If there’s one thing you need [in pro leagues], it’s somebody who can shoot the basketball, because it’s sorely lacking sometimes from what I can see,” McKeown said. “When you get a smart, tough kid who can stretch defenses like that, and can make open threes, and I’m a WNBA team that’s got great players around her, I’d give her a look.”
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