ARLINGTON, Texas – One of the biggest compliments rookies in any sport can receive from coaches or veteran teammates is that they are a sponge, someone who absorbs every bit of information thrown at them, which often comes at a dizzying pace.
Lexie Hull is just 17 games into her WNBA career in Indiana, but she’s already earned that moniker from her coach.
“She’s been very active in practice the last month,” Fever interim head coach Carlos Knox said of Hull. “We have two starters that are veterans, so she’s constantly learning from Kelsey (Mitchell) and Victoria (Vivians).
“She’s had an opportunity to learn behind those young ladies and now she’s ready for the physicality. She’s learned a lot of what we are doing offensively, defensively.
“She’s learned the flow of the professional game, the 24-second shot clock, the defensive 3 seconds. She’s just a sponge. She comes from a great program (Stanford). She’s been coached at a high level. She understands, she comprehends at a high level. There’s a lot of different things she does on the floor to help a basketball team, and I think she’s ready to really blossom.”
Hull is averaging just 1.9 points and 1.1 rebounds per game, but the affable Spokane native, who was the sixth pick in the 2022 WNBA draft, can’t complain about her time in the WNBA.
“It’s been great, definitely been a transition,” Hull said. “On and off the court, it’s a lot different. It’s your job now, so there’s little parts that are different. But it’s been super fun and being in Indiana with a great team and a great coaching staff has been awesome.”
Her short time in the WNBA has included one moment which went viral. In her league debut on May 6 at Washington, she was guarding the Mystics’ Natasha Cloud when she slipped on the floor, leading many to say Cloud got the better of her with a crossover.
Hull, however, sees those takes a bit differently while realizing that was her welcome to the WNBA moment.
“I fell down and people say she crossed me up, but I think I just tripped. Still, the crowd went crazy and social media went crazy after that,” she said. “Everyone was like, ‘Welcome to the league, Lex.’ So, here I am after that.”
Along with Briann January, who is playing her final professional season with Seattle, she is one of two Spokane natives playing in the WNBA. The fact she represents her hometown each time she hits the court isn’t lost on the Central Valley High School product who helped lead the Bears to State 4A titles as a sophomore and senior.
“Spokane’s a great basketball town. … I know everyone in Spokane is super supportive of basketball and women’s basketball in particular,” Hull said. “Being able to call Spokane home, I feel very special and blessed to be able to go home and feel their support every time.”
Even though she and January share similar roots, they hadn’t met until the Fever traveled to Seattle to face the Storm on Friday. They will meet again on July 17, which Lexie said she looks forward to.
“She’s a great player. Growing up, she played for the same club team, same coach as my sister and I,” Hull said of January before the game against the Storm. “Definitely a role model and someone I looked up to in the basketball space. It’s just crazy to think that her career’s coming to close. The legacy she has is amazing.
“It’s going to be awesome (to interact with her). Just to be able to share that special bond with someone and see a face that I’ve grown up to looking forward to meeting, and even having an opportunity to play against is kind of surreal.
“That’s been my whole rookie year. All these players have been in the league for so long. Huge names and huge players in the game, huge changemakers in the game and being able to defend them has been super special.”
Another aspect of making two trips to Seattle is seeing the fans who make the drive from Spokane to see their two local products square off.
“Our high school scene is really special (in Spokane),” Hull said. “Basically, my AAU team was my high school varsity team. Getting to play with each other the entire year really helped us. We saw so many fans not related to any of the players at my high school team coming to watch our games, traveling to state and watching us play. Some even came to New York and watched us play. The support that we have in Spokane is unmatched.”
One big adjustment to life in the WNBA is that for the first time since she can remember, Lexie is not teammates with her twin sister, Lacie.
“It’s definitely been different,” Hull said. “I remember my first practice at Indiana was my first practice ever without her. First game played without her was this year. It’s definitely different not having that person that I’ve grown up playing with not being there, but I know she’s my biggest fan, my biggest supporter. She texts me every day. It’s definitely been different, but in good way.”
Hull considers it an honor not only to represent Spokane every time she steps on the hardwood, but also to carry forward the impressive basketball legacy of the Hull family.
“My grandpa and my dad played,” she said. “They were the reason I started playing basketball at a young age. They have a legacy at Central Valley. They played there, so getting to follow in their footsteps was super special.
“I listen to them and have learned a lot from them. I definitely don’t take a lot for granted and love being part of a basketball family.”
Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.
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