Former Iowa superstar Brigitte Carlton enjoys life in the WNBA

Minnesota Links forward Bridget Carlton, during a WNBA game against Seattle Storm earlier this month, is enjoying her life as a professional basketball player. (Associated Press/Stephen Brashear)

ARLINGTON, Texas – Bridget Carlton was in her fourth season with the Minnesota Links of the WNBA and it’s safe to say that Iowa’s previous women’s basketball excellence has settled well into the Twin Cities.

“It was really good,” Carlton said of her stint at Lynx. “I have really enjoyed my time. I have developed a lot as a player and as a professional and I just know how the pro world works. It really is a fine privilege and I am fortunate to be a part of it.”

After an outstanding career at ISU that culminated in a major campaign averaging 21.7 points and 8.6 rebounds over 35 games, she won the 2019 Top 12 Player of the Year and Cheryl Miller Award given annually to the nation’s top junior striker, drafted in the second round From the 2019 WNBA Draft by Connecticut Sun.

However, after playing four matches with The Sun as a rookie, she was given up. Carlton soon secured a seven-day contract with Lynx and did so well that she was awarded a contract for the rest of the season. Last season, she appeared in 32 career-highest games, averaging 4.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

Sheryl Reeve has coached the Lynx since 2010. During her tenure, she has led Minnesota to four WNBA championships and is the coach of the year three times. Reeve has appreciated the various intangibles Carlton has brought to Lynx in the past few seasons.

“There is something to be said about being someone who plays hard and is consistent in their behavior from a basketball point of view,” Reeve said. “When you have a player who can be as consistent as Bridget, consistent in her effort, she gives us the same thing every day, whatever we give. For her to evolve in terms of skill, she’s done it every year with us. “

But consistency is nothing new for Carlton, who was famous for always answering the bell during her wonderful four-year stay at Ames.

“I’m proud of that, I control what I can,” she said. “If the coach asks me to do something, I’ll do it.”

“The little things in this league are important because every team is good, and every team can beat every team, so it’s about property and possessions in the little details. I try to take care of the business that way and let the chips fall where they can. I’m not too concerned about shots. Or whatever (other) but I take care of the ball and play defense.”

Besides playing for one of the most successful coaches in WNBA history at Reeve, Carleton also benefited from playing alongside Sylvia Fowls, a league icon who was named in 2021 as one of the 25 Greatest Players in WNBA History. Fowles is retiring after this season.

“He was very cool. Silvia is the best. She obviously dominates the field both offensively and defensively.” “It’s always a safety net on both ends of the floor. We know as rangers we can squeeze a little bit more because we have it left ready to protect the edge.

“On the offensive, she’s just a beast out there and she can score as much as she wants. Not only that, but she’s an amazing person. It’s really amazing to be around, such a great leader. She’s just the best. I love hanging out with her and getting to know her for the past four summers.”

Playing in the Twin Cities was also nice because Ames is only a few hours away, allowing her to return to ISU to see her former coaches and others on the program whenever possible.

“Ames was good for me. Iowa State was good for me. I always try to come back whenever I can,” Carlton said. “Some of my coaches came and watched our last home game, which was really great. Yes, I love Ames. I’m proud to be a Cyclone, excited to see what they do there.”

The WNBA season runs through mid-August. Once this campaign is over, Carlton’s thoughts will turn to her next competition with Team Canada, the 2022 FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup in Australia. It’s a task she will share with current Lynx teammate Natalie Ashunwa, who was also a teammate at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo last summer.

“It is a nice. “I love playing for my country,” she said. “I’ve said it a million times, it’s always been my number one goal and my dream, to represent Team Canada at the highest level. This is the Olympics, the World Cup. (Natalie and I) have both grown a lot. It’s really fun to represent Canada, a country that I’m so happy to be I will be of him.”

Once the World Cup is over, her focus will shift back to playing outside during the fall and winter seasons. So far, this former Hurricane has played in Australia, France and Israel.

But no matter where she plays, getting paid to tie her sneakers isn’t a bad way to make a living.

“Definitely (I have the best job in the world),” Carlton said. “I’m away from my family a lot and we don’t get weekends, but I can play basketball for two or three hours a day. That’s my job and that’s so cool.”

Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.