A Q&A with Parker great Mistie Bass
She is arguably the greatest high school girls basketball player in state history.
Her impressive resume includes two WIAA Division 1 state titles at Janesville Parker and four Player of the Year honors in the Big Eight Conference. She is the only female in state history to be named AP Player of the Year three times, and she was a USA Today All-America selection her senior year.
Yet for everything Mistie Bass has done in her storied career, including two trips to the Final Four while playing at Duke University and seven productive years in the WNBA, a lifelong dream has remained unfulfilled. That dream could become a reality in 2016.
Bass dreamed of playing in the Olympics. She hopes to get a chance with the French national team in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bass has played in France during the WNBA offseason the last couple years, and in 2014, she can apply for her citizenship in the country. That will allow her to try out for the French national team and possibly earn a spot on the country’s 2016 Olympic team.
The 2002 Parker High graduate is still playing in the European League while living in France. She recently emailed The Gazette and answered questions about her incredible basketball career, which saw her average a career-best 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun.
1. You had a very solid year with the Sun. Your scoring average and shooting percentage were your best ever. What was the difference this season compared to seasons past?
Bass: I really had to focus on doing the most with the time that was given. My role changed drastically this season, and my minutes were lowered. When this happened, I could have easily decided to give up, but instead, every chance I had on the court, I wanted to prove that I should stay out there. My goal was to have the highest evaluation possible in the time I was given. That determination allowed me to remain positive, focused, and it led to a great outcome. I was very pleased with my personal season.
2. Do you plan on coming back to the Sun next season or are there other plans in the
Bass: As far as returning to the same team, that is all up in the air right now. This is the first year of my career when I actually have the choice to decide where is the best place for me. That has never been the case in previous seasons, due to my playing time and restricted free agency. I feel like I am free to make my own choices now and decide what direction I want my career to go. That is an amazing feeling. So I will see what offers are out there, talk with my agent, and if the Sun is the best choice, I will return. If not, you may see me in a new uniform next summer.
3. Do you get back to the area (Janesville) often, and would you like to come
back here when your playing days are over?
Bass: I live in Houston during the offseason, but I was back in Janesville last December for Parker’s annual alumni game. That was a blast seeing all the former players from over the years and being able to play on that basketball court again. What a great feeling of knowing how it felt being there years before I became who I am now. It’s always a very humbling experience returning to my roots. I would LOVE to come back to Janesville for one moment that still rests on my dream list—retiring my jersey. I still dream about that becoming a possibility and hope one day I can return for that. I also plan on coaching after my career, so who knows, I may end up at University of Wisconsin.
4. You said coaching might be in your future. At what level would you be interested in coaching?
Bass: Yes, I do plan on becoming a coach in the future. I would actually prefer to be a coach of a Division I university. I find tremendous pleasure in the college game. I believe that is where REAL basketball happens. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a professional, but there is something truly special about those four years in a young athlete’s life that puts a stamp on who they will be for the rest of their lives. I want to be the person who cultivates an atmosphere that improves young ladies’ lives on and off the court. I want to help create amazing individuals who will shine in their lives far after the last buzzer of their careers.
5. When you look back at your incredible high school career, any game or moment that sticks out the most?
Bass: Wow, there were so many amazing moments in high school that stand out. Two state championships are obviously at the top of the list. How those moments came to pass after nearly 10 years of dreaming it with the same group of little girls from the Boys and Girls Club team—who got kicked out of that league because we were too good—is still so amazing to think about. My favorite on-court moment, of course, was scoring 41 points at Madison West as a freshman and winning in overtime by one. I would love to see that game on film. I don’t think I ever did. My favorite off-court memory was my coaches sitting down with me in the lunchroom at Parker with thousands of letters from coaches with the instructions to narrow down my list to 10. I looked at them like they were crazy. They really did a great job in keeping me humble through that whole process and reminding me that everything was still about team.
6. Any regrets or anything you would've done differently looking back?
Bass: Wow, what a question. Back then, I was all about basketball and didn’t care much for the research of the educational programs at each individual college. I was focused on WNBA, and that was it. I think if I were to do it all over again, I would have really asked myself, ‘What would I enjoy doing after basketball?’ Duke is an exceptional university, but the programs there were not for me. I didn’t want to go into politics, medicine or law, so my choices were slim. However, if I had done research prior to arriving to the campus, I more than likely would have made a different choice.
7. Any long-range goals or plans?
Bass: I still have some things written down on my dream list. I have already achieved so much in my career, and it would maybe seem as if there couldn’t be much left to achieve, but I still would like to be a part of a WNBA championship team or a European championship team. And I want to play in the 2016 Olympics. After basketball, I want to be known as one of the best recruiters in the college game!