Illinois women’s basketball’s Karisma Penn and Adrienne GodBold have professional basketball in their future
Karisma Penn and Adrienne GodBold aren’t quite done at Illinois.
The seniors still have a few games to play for the Illinois women’s basketball team, whether it be in the NCAA tournament or the WNIT. But, after postseason play, Penn and GodBold don’t plan on hanging up their basketball shoes.
Like many seniors, Penn and GodBold aren’t exactly sure where they’re headed after graduation in May, but both know they will be playing basketball.
Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said both players are capable of achieving their dream.
“Both of them will be able to play overseas, for sure,” Bollant said. “They’re both good enough to play in the WNBA, depending on the right team and the right system.”
Penn was named first-team All-Big Ten this season after leading the Illini with 19 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game.
Stephanie White, assistant coach for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever and ESPN and Big Ten Network analyst, has taken note.
“She certainly has a future. She’s one of those players who is a little bit of a tweener, so to speak, size-wise. She’s probably not big enough to play inside like she has in college,” White said. “There is certainly going to be an adjustment period, but she’s certainly got a shot. With the way that she plays, the way that she rebounds and the level that she plays at, she certainly has an opportunity to play in the WNBA.”
White said the 6-foot-2 forward benefited from playing under Bollant.
“The system that she has played in this year has helped her because she can be a little bit more perimeter-oriented. She can shoot the 3 a little bit more. It has opened more for her to take it off the dribble a little bit more, so she can showcase the skills that she would use in the WNBA.”
Penn said she feels comfortable playing small forward or power forward at the next level. She has developed an outside shot, hitting 27 percent of 3-pointers this season, rather than relying solely on shots next to the basket.
While Penn is a projected top-20 pick in April’s WNBA draft, GodBold will likely be an undrafted free agent if she is to make a WNBA roster.
“She’s definitely a player where if she can get more experience, whether it being playing overseas or not, she certainly has an opportunity to have a future in the WNBA,” White said.
GodBold, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, averaged 3.2 steals and 7.1 rebounds per game.
“I see GodBold as a player who can come in and play defense, and now she’s starting to showcase her offensive talent, which is really good,” White said. “But on an 11-man roster, it’s awfully tough to make a team.”
White said GodBold may be limited by her lack of exposure to scouts. GodBold was not a starter until this season, and she missed the first semester because of academic ineligibility.
“Her question would be experience,” White said. “She hasn’t had quite the experience in terms of the level of play and the consistency of playing time she has had throughout her career.”
Bollant has two former players — Julie Wojta and Kayla Tetschlag — playing overseas. Illinois’ current video coordinator, Celeste Ratka, also played overseas after playing for Bollant at Green Bay.
“The hard thing over there is you think you’re going to play pro and the girls will all be serious and take it really seriously, but it’s really just a mix,” he said. “A lot of our girls at Green Bay were frustrated with the intensity level and the passion of the team because it was so good at Green Bay and our practices were so intense and team was so passionate. And they go overseas, and they didn’t find the same, and it was kind of disheartening for them.”
Bollant said that finding the right fit overseas is crucial for players, so he plans to help his seniors find a good agent.
“We’re going to have them meet with some agents when we go down to the Final Four and play in a combine-type thing at the Final Four in front of the WNBA coaches,” he said.
While Penn and GodBold are concerned with their future, they aren’t finished at Illinois. They know that, more than anything, a strong finish to their careers could boost their draft stock.
Johnathan can be reached at email@example.com and @jhett93.