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Alumni Newsmakers

Star Colonial Ascends to WNBA

Photos Courtesy Minnesota Lynx

District native Jessica Adair, BA '09, proved during her time at GW that she had both the talent and the work ethic to play basketball professionally. It would take longer than expected for that work to pay off—but for Ms. Adair, now playing with the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, the delay has been worth it.

As a Colonial, Ms. Adair was a team standout, receiving First Team All-Atlantic 10 accolades in each of her final three seasons. The Colonials posted back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances in 2007 and 2008 with Ms. Adair anchoring the post.

Perhaps her most memorable performance came in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Ms. Adair scored 15 points and hauled in 21 rebounds, the fourth-most ever recorded in an NCAA tournament game, in a victory over Boise State. She went on to score 1,475 points and grab 770 rebounds during her four seasons, joining an exclusive list of just nine Colonials who have more than 1,000 points and 700 boards in their career.

In 2009, her lifelong goal of playing in the pros appeared to be accomplished: She was drafted 34th overall by the Phoenix Mercury in that year's WNBA draft. However, she was unexpectedly waived before ever suiting up for the Mercury.

"When I was waived, I had a minor breakdown and started to think that basketball may not be my calling," Ms. Adair says. "I went to work at a nonprofit in the [D.C.] area, and it just wasn't as fulfilling to me as basketball had been, so I dedicated the next year to my body."

Ms. Adair took up a strict diet and workout regimen, which brought the 6-foot-4 center to a sleek 210 pounds. With the help of former GW head coach Joe McKeown, a mentor to Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve, Ms. Adair found herself back trying out for the pro ranks with Minnesota in 2010. She was cut in the preseason, but persisted: She stayed in shape and was recalled for the final game of the regular season.

"Coach Reeve's parting words after the final game were, 'Just keep working hard. Go overseas and do your best, and we will bring you back to camp next season,'" Ms. Adair says. "So I went to Turkey and had a really good season averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Coach Reeve kept her word and brought me back. I worked hard for three years, and here I am."

Ms. Adair is in her first full season with the Lynx after playing in the 2010 regular-season finale with the club and re-signing this past February. The team went on to win the 2011 WNBA Championship which was her "ultimate goal" for the season.

In August, the Lynx played the Washington Mystics at Verizon Center in D.C. "To be able to play in my hometown, in front of people who know me and who have helped me get to this point overwhelms me with joy and excitement," Ms. Adair says.

"Playing professional basketball has been a goal of mine since I began playing in elementary school, and accomplishing a lifelong goal such as this is truly indescribable," she says. "Playing alongside players that I used to watch on TV growing up, like Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes, is incredible to me. I still find myself a little star struck at times."

—Jesse Hooker