Rookie athletes often have a hard time making the jump from college to the pros. But not Connecticut Sun forward Tina Charles. The former UConn Huskies star is dominating in the WNBA, leading the league in rebounds (12.1) and averaging a team-high 15.3 points per game. SIKIDS.com got the chance to catch up with Charles to talk about life in the WNBA...
SIKids.com: You were drafted Number 1 overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun. How special is it for you to get to stay in Connecticut to play professionally after four years at UConn?
TC: It was a dream come true. Any person who plays a sport, they want to go to the pro level. It goes back to the coaches and my teammates that helped me become the player that I am, so it wasn’t just me who succeeded in this.
SIKIDS.com: How have you managed to make such a smooth transition from college to professional basketball?
TC: I think any player who goes to UConn, they’re prepared to be a professional, especially having played for Coach [Geno] Auriemma. The fact that he was so hard on his players and that he expected nothing but excellence from them, it definitely makes it easier now at the professional level.
SIKIDS.com: You’ve been named WNBA Rookie of the Month three times in a row. What does it mean to you to have such a big impact on your team as a rookie?
TC: It definitely means a lot. It shows that my teammates respect me, and my coaches respect me, and they have confidence in me. And I think the more confidence they have in me, the more I can do out there on the floor. So whatever it takes for us to win and for us to come together more as a team, that’s what I’m going to do.
SIKIDS.com: You have 17 double-doubles, which matches the most for any rookie in WNBA history. And it’s already more than any Connecticut Sun player in history. With eight games left, you are on pace to shatter that rookie double-double record. Why do you think you’ve been so dominant?
TC: I just try to have the same mindset going into every game. Whatever minutes that I get on the floor, I’m going to go out there and play hard and do it for my teammates. It’s not just a mindset of trying to get a double-double, it’s a mindset of playing hard and the double-doubles happen after that.
SIKIDS.com: You went undefeated during your final two seasons of college basketball, so you’re not used to losing. How have you adjusted to that particular element of life in the WNBA?
TC: It's always hard to lose, regardless of how much you've won. But this is professional basketball, and you are not going to win every game at this level.