EGBO – The Indiana Fever’s 2022 season was challenging. The team parted ways with head coach Carlos Knox and is looking for a full-time replacement.

With five rookies in the top nine players, erratic play was expected. Lin Dunn has stressed the need for a clear defensive identity.

Queen Egbo was the team’s brightest defensive spark. Egbo’s 10th-round pick surprised many. After a complete season of her play and progress since Baylor, she could be picked higher in a hypothetical redraft.

McDonald’s All-American Egbo joined a loaded Baylor team as a rookie in 2018.

“I had to stand out. Egbo understood he was a decent rebounder and shot blocker, but he needed to improve if he wanted to play.

She helped the Bears win the National Title as a bench player. She was Big 12 Sixth Woman of the Year the following season before starting full-time her Junior and Senior years.

The same relentlessness and tenacity she used to improve as a Baylor defender helped her in the WNBA. She enjoys stopping opponents near the rim or in the paint.

Shot-blocking is a foundation of her defense (she was sixth in blocks per game this season), but it’s just that. She’s versatile at 5.

Egbo’s mobility and quickness make him a good switch defender. She can play deep drop coverage in the paint or at the basket or near the screen. She’s dominant as a post-isolation defender. She possesses the defensive skills to be a top-tier basketball defender.

She has steps to do to reach the top tier.

“Being able to halt guards consistently, not just once or twice. Next, I’ll defend the league’s finest guards. Being more consistent on defense, not slacking. As a rookie, you pace yourself, but Egbo wants to be explosive all game.

Egbo plays for Nesibe Aydin, a Turkish team in Eurocup this season (you can watch Eurocup games on the Fiba Basketball YouTube Channel).

She’s working on her post-game, footwork, and mid-range jumper to make her harder to defend. While her jump shooting is still a work in progress, the sparks of progression were there this season. There was a definite effort to weave it into her game, and where she was able to build off that was attractive.

“To consistently knock down that mid-range jumper, getting people off the dribble, and broadening my game offensively to where I’m not just a back to the basket big. Egbo’s international offensive strategy involves doing more of everything. She’s even expanding outside the arc.

She has the tools to construct opposing frontcourts. This season, her improved catching and driving put slower bigs in a bind. She could destroy weaker opponents.

Consistency is crucial, but her offensive progress from her final season at Baylor to the end of her first year was encouraging.

Egbo believes she grew most intellectually this year. In her farewell interview, she said she grew most as a teammate.

“Looking back on when I was younger, I wouldn’t necessarily say I was selfish, but I wasn’t always a positive teammate. Not always upbeat. In high school and college, I pointed fingers. I’ve done well avoiding that and encouraging my teammates. Egbo says he’ll help them on the floor if they’re beaten.

Egbo says Indiana had excellent spirits despite their record. Coaches, staff, and veterans were patient. Rookies were closer, but the team was connected.

Knowing how to talk to people was key because everyone is different. You can’t just holler at somebody. Some people are motivated by that, but others need one-on-one encouragement. I learnt it during this year in Indy, and it’s helped a lot.”

Over four years, Egbo and Smith lost 12 times at Baylor.

This season was about being a pro and being on.

“It was an eye-opener—you kind of get used to winning when you play for certain colleges. Lexie, Henny, Lys, and I became accustomed to these teams. Sometimes we can afford a few minutes or a quarter off. In a moment of rebuilding and self-discovery, you don’t have time for that, so you must come to practice ready to work. You must prove yourself every day, says Egbo.

Egbo is looking forward to next season. Now she’s working. She’s avidly working to become a great player while also understanding she could have an altogether different role next season. After a coaching and system change at Baylor, she can adapt quickly.

“We’re pumped.” I feel that next year is gonna be an adjustment for us with a lot of changes… The team and coaches may appear different, but working toward a shared goal is what matters most.

She knows it’s a process, and it will take time to get the Fever to where they want to be. She and the other rookies recognize the challenge and want to return Indiana to the W. They want to talk to former players to learn what made the team great.

Egbo stayed in Indianapolis after the W season concluded rather of going to Turkey or Texas. Adjusting to the Midwest was difficult, but she leaped at the chance to volunteer with Fever.

“I knew I’d like it. Grandma and I have always done community projects. Being involved in the community let Egbo see another side of Indiana.

After the regular season, Egbo was a near-daily sight on the Fever’s Instagram page. She volunteered at food and blood drives, youth and senior facilities, and was always smiling.

“When you’re playing basketball, you’re just doing what you do,” adds Egbo.

She adored interacting with kids. At Baylor, she majored in Kinesiology and planned to attend nursing school after her basketball career.

Her dog Deuce, a 3-year-old Pit/Lab mix, appears on Zoom (she brought him to Turkey).

“He’s my best friend,” says Egbo with a laugh.

She’s reticent, unlike when she swats a shot and yells on-court. She’s quiet and confident, but not arrogant; she knows who she is and that hard work will take her far.

She wants to be an All-Star, All-Defense, and WNBA champion.

Egbo feels All-Defense is “certainly feasible for me in the next couple years,” and I agree. She’s making an impact in Indiana on and off the court.

As the Fever attempts to turn the corner towards a better future, Queen Egbo has clearly positioned herself as one of the key reasons to be optimistic about the next age in Indiana.

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