Finally, It’s Allison’s Turn

By Jim Kleinpeter
Updated: April 4, 2010

LSU's Allison Hightower averaged 14.9 points per game as a junior and 18.2 as a senior.

LSU's Allison Hightower averaged 14.9 points per game as a junior and 18.2 as a senior.

BATON ROUGE — As a schoolgirl in Arlington, Texas, LSU forward Allison Hightower chased the WNBA dream. Because her grandparents lived in Houston, she took in Houston Comets games whenever she visited. She saw the Comets win three of their four championships under current LSU coach Van Chancellor.

Back home, she plastered her bedroom wall with posters of her idol, Cynthia Cooper, and collected the league trading cards.

“I used to wear the fake championship rings they passed out at the game, ” she said with a smile.

Now the dream is becoming real.

Hightower, one of the elite players in LSU history, is expected to be one of the top 10 picks in the WNBA draft to be held Thursday in Secaucus, N.J. If that happens, she will be the seventh WNBA first-round pick from Louisiana State University.

The first was Marie Ferdinand in 2001.

“It’s just so exciting, so surreal right now, ” said Hightower, an All-American the past two seasons and Player of the Year candidate this season. “That was so long ago. It’s exciting that women have a professional game. It’s always been my dream to play in the WNBA.”

Hightower, who played in 136 career games with 65 starts, averaged 14.9 points per game as a junior and 18.2 as a senior. That’s the highest total since Seimone Augustus.

But it will be her work ethic that helps her make the jump to the next level. LSU assistant coach Bob Starkey calls her “one of the five most influential people ever to play here, ” and “the hardest working player I’ve ever coached — men or women.”

Hightower said she knows hard work is key because the talent level in the WNBA increases each year. A left-handed shooting guard, she is working to strengthen her right hand to make herself tougher to defend.

“She will be attractive to WNBA because of the versatility of her game, ” said ESPN studio analyst Carolyn Peck, a former SEC coach.

“She’s consistent on the 3-pointer and has a midrange game that is a lost art, and she can get all the way to the basket. She’s a fierce competitor.”

The WNBA season begins in May, which provides little time for resting after a long senior season at LSU. But that’s another challenge Hightower is ready for.

“It’s a quick turnaround but it’s all about being tough, ” she said.

“It’s going to be a very physical league but that’s what you prepare for. It might be stressful but I’m prepared for it. I’m just blessed.

It’s a great feeling.”