April 15, 2012
By Jon Cooper
– Sasha Goodlett has never taken the easy road to get to where she was going, yet she’s always seemed to get there.
Whether it was proving she could play at the Division I level or that she could carry Georgia Tech to unprecedented heights, Goodlett simply powered through any obstacle put before her.
That’s what has made her storied four-year career at Georgia Tech so rewarding.
“I’m most proud of how I persevered and stayed coachable and fought through adversity my four years here,” she said. “It wasn’t easy by any means but every athlete goes through their challenging moments throughout their seasons and career. I’m most proud of how I persevered through it, stayed optimistic about it and, at the end of the day, was able to accomplish good things.”
That perseverance and those good things accomplished are the reason Goodlett is in Bristol, Connecticut today, one of 15 players invited to attend the 2012 WNBA Draft (The Draft starts at 2:00 p.m., with the first round televised on ESPN2. The second and third rounds can be seen on ESPNU and NBA TV. The entire Draft will be simulcast on ESPN3).
The news caught her by surprise.
“I first found out about it last week and honestly it really didn’t hit me. It still hasn’t hit me fully yet,” said Goodlett. “It was very humbling. It’s an honor that they thought so highly of me and my career to invite me up to Connecticut to participate in the WNBA Draft.
“Honestly, if you would have told me this last year I wouldn’t have believed it,” she added. “I wasn’t really sure about it until I got the call. Once I did, I was so happy and then I was happy about the light that it’s going to shine on this program.”
There was a time that Goodlett thought being in Division I, never mind Georgia Tech, might have seemed out of the realm of possibility, despite her starring at Clinton High School in her home state of Mississippi.
Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball Head Coach MaChelle Joseph saw differently.
“When I first saw her play I knew she had the potential to be a great player. She had the footwork and hands,” Joseph recalled. “Her conditioning level was the one drawback and I think the reason a lot of people didn’t recruit Sasha. What I saw was her potential. When I met her and knew what kind of work ethic she had I knew she was going to be the type of player we could get to go to the next level at Georgia Tech. The thing that’s impressed me the most is her determination and will power.”
The rest is history.
Goodlett finished her career ranking in the top 10 all-time in school history in scoring (1,364 points, 10th), rebounds (760, ninth), and blocked shots (127, fifth) and capped off her career with a dynamic senior season during which she was named Second-Team All-ACC and ACC All-Tournament First Team. She was the rock that led the 2011-12 Yellow Jackets to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, while setting new single-season highs for wins (26), and conference wins (12).
The senior class — Goodlett, guards Metra Walthour and Mo Bennett, forward Chelsea Regins and center LaQuananisha Adams — set new school-records for career wins by a class (95), conference wins (37) and winning percentage (.704). They became the first senior class to win over 70 percent of its games.
“For us five seniors, to be a part of something that had never been done before with the most wins in the history of the school and making it to the Sweet 16, was a great way to finish a great career,” Goodlett said. “I remember us coming in, we were talking about how we wanted to make history and how we wanted to do something big and wanted to kind of pay back the program because it had given us so much. I felt like we definitely accomplished that.”
Goodlett, who will graduate in May with a degree in History — another major accomplishment and a fitting major, considering how much history she participated in at Georgia Tech– made sure to thank Joseph.
“Since Day One she’s always been my biggest supporter and my biggest critic,” Goodlett said. “She’s always been supportive of me and everything I’ve done. Now we’re both going to experience it together.”
Joseph, who will accompany Goodlett and Goodlett’s mom, Sara, to the Draft, proudly recalled how Goodlett, in pursuit of improving her strength and conditioning, has dropped 60 pounds since arriving on campus and lived up to the potential Joseph knew was in there.
“I always saw something in Sasha that I’m not sure Sasha saw in herself,” Joseph said. “So it was really important for me that I made sure she was able to reach her potential. When she says I was her harshest critic, she was definitely right about that. I don’t think I’ve ever pushed a player harder than I’ve pushed Sasha.
“She’s been very fortunate at Georgia Tech. She’s surrounded by Leah Thomas, our nutritionist, who’s really helped her, Scott McDonald, our strength coach, and Felicia Tucker, our trainer,” Joseph added. “It’s been a team effort, along with the coaches setting goals with her. It’s been a process. But we couldn’t have done it without Sasha. She really bought into our system and our program, everything we asked her to do. I don’t know if I’ve coached a player who is more coachable than Sasha.”
Goodlett got the news about her invitation to the Draft from Joseph while both were working out in the weight room at Zelnak Center.
Now, it’s on to Bristol and, ideally, the start of a new career path, another journey upon which to embark.
Should Goodlett hear her name called, she would become the second Yellow Jacket drafted in two years, as Alex Montgomery was selected 10th overall in last year’s Draft by the New York Liberty.
The possibility of her playing professionally in Atlanta may not be in the cards, as the Atlanta Dream doesn’t have a first-round pick (although there are two other rounds) but there are 11 other possible cities which would suit her just fine.
“Where ever I get drafted I will be happy to be there,” said Goodlett. “Just being able to go to training camp for a team is a great honor. I’m excited to play at the next level.”