Nobody Sacrificed More Than Former LSU Guard Hailey Van Lith | With Her WNBA Draft Dreams Deferred, She Has To Be Selfish In 2025

With all of the adulation and understanding bestowed upon Caitlin Clark and the other women basketball players credited with helping the game’s visibility and marketability reach new heights, the one player who may have sacrificed the most to represent everything that team sports is about is former LSU guard Hailey Van Lith.

WNBA Draft Dreams Deferred For Hailey Van Lith: Transfers From LSU

Tonight was supposed to be a WNBA draft that saw her possibly going in the first round, clearly as one of the best women’s players in the country. Instead, she’s in the midst of finding another home after leaving the LSU drama train behind and entering the transfer portal, where she’s currently the ninth-ranked player, according to the Athletic.

The feisty, sharp-shooting guard, who transferred to Baton Rouge from Louisville to elevate her status in college hoops and join the national champions with hopes of helping LSU win another, had three elite seasons with the Cardinals, averaging 15.4 points on 13.2 shots per game and developing a reputation as a marksman.


She was supposed to add another dimension to LSU and a strong complementary perimeter and play-making piece to an offense predicated on the post contributions of first option Angel Reese. 

But the partnership did not work out as planned for either party. The more athletic Flau’Jae Johnson was clearly going to get more freedom in an off-ball role, with Van Lith shifting to point guard. Though she tried her best to be a team player, accepted her new role, supported Kim Mulkey and her teammates throughout all of the trials and tribulations that transcended the basketball court, it was clear that Van Lith wasn’t comfortable playing the background. 

All of that grace didn’t benefit her in the end.

When the lights went out, the crowds dispersed and all of the corporate carnivores finally take a breath to count the money, Van Lith was one of those unsung players who sacrificed their own journeys for the cause.

She clearly wasn’t happy on the court. Getting benched for the first time had to be a torturous blow to her ego.

When she saw her Louisville team roll to 24 wins and then lose to No. 11 seed Middle Tennessee State in the NCAA Tournament, that had to sting. They could have used her 20-point potential.  She was a star there. Maybe she shouldn’t have left. The conversation had to be going on in Hailey’s head as she watched Johnson’s brother leap over the scorer’s table during the SEC Tournament scuffle with South Carolina.

Do I need this? Is this what I came to LSU for?

Even though she played the supporting teammate to perfection, bravely jumping into the middle of a battle between Mulkey and Reese and certain media, proving to be an advocate and ally on issues of racial equality and boldly defending Reese and her teammates against what they see as racial and gender persecution. 

Between all the fanfare and NIL deals for her surrounding cast, Van Lith’s hoop dream, to be a WNBA draft pick in the 2024 draft, started slipping away. There were too many stars and too few cameras, content or basketballs to go around. 

Kim Mulkey Addressed Van Lith’s Struggles

Mulkey recently spoke out about her one-year experiment, after news of Van Lith transferring out of LSU for her final season, surfaced. 

“She had to embrace a change in her mindset of not shooting it 20-30 times a game, but finding who’s open and getting them the ball,” Mulkey said. “And sometimes it was hard because she would be pressured, and she’d be pounding the heck out of that ball.”

So while her teammates soared, she suffered, posting just 11.6 points on 9.9 shots per game with the Tigers.

Her deft shooting took a dive from 42.2 percent to just 37.8 percent. Her three-point shooting was about the same (33.7 to 33.9 percent).

Mulkey Says Having Point Guard Skills Is Van Lith’s Only Hope Of Playing In “W”

Van Lith is only 5-foot-8ish and a solid 170 pounds. She can hold her weight, but she’s not a physical specimen and the guards are averaging 6 feet and better in the WNBA nowadays. The 5-foot-4 Mulkey knows a thing or two about undersized guards doing big things, The championship coach was an All-America point guard at Louisiana Tech University back in the day, winning two national championships as a player: the AIAW title in 1981 and the inaugural NCAA title in 1982.

“She wanted to improve her strengths by coming to LSU with a goal of expanding her game by learning a position that I played my entire life,” Mulkey said, per, “because she knows at the next level that’s her only chance — to be able to tell them somewhat, ‘I can handle the ball if you need me to.’”

Mulkey understands the game, and the way she’s wired she probably wanted a season to get Van Lith more work at the point, more touches, and make her a larger part of a new LSU Tigers offense for 2025. At the same time, Mulkey has some fire recruits coming in, and she understands Van Lith is on the clock. 

“Her aspirations were to get drafted this year, and she realized, ‘I need another year and I need to go back to a place where I can relax and get back to my normal position,” Mulkey said at a team banquet, according to “And what do you do? You hug her, and you wish her well.”

Van Lith Currently Ranked Ninth Among Transfer Portal Players: Visits Mississippi State 

Van Lith can ball, so she will land in a place where she can put up some shots and try to work her way into the WNBA. She’s already visited conference rival Mississippi State. Some are surprised she would go to a team that was seventh in the conference, but Van Lith played under the Bulldogs head coach Sam Purcell for two seasons, while he was an assistant at Louisville. She would surely get to put the ball up more and prove her worth.

No more sacrifice.

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