Raven begins new chapter with Atlanta Dream
April 25, 2010
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
Brittainey Raven didn’t even wait around long enough to hear her name announced in the WNBA Draft earlier this month.
“It was coming down to the last picks,” Raven remembers, “and I just decided I couldn’t watch anymore.”
Then, her phone started chirping. Calls, texts -- friends were delivering the news. Raven was selected No. 33 by the Atlanta Dream, and became the ninth player in Texas Women's Basketball history to be drafted in the WNBA since the league's inception in 1997, and the first since Tiffany Jackson in 2007.
“Once I found out I really couldn’t believe it, because it’s a dream come true. I’ve wanted to play in the WNBA for as long as I remember,” says Raven, who opened training camp with Atlanta on Sunday, April 25.
Raven says Atlanta coaches told her she was coveted because of her size -- she’s a 6-foot-1 guard -- and speed. The Dream also need a 3-point shooting guard on their roster. With that in mind, Raven has been working out three times a day since she learned her draft fate, and some of those workouts have been in the gym, hoisting 3-pointer after 3-pointer.
Texas Ex Edwina Brown, who also played professionally in the WNBA, has been working with Raven in the gym, along with UT special assistant Shaeeta Williams. Brown has been helping Raven with mental toughness, a necessary quality to help her compete for a roster spot.
“The main thing Edwina has been telling me is to make sure I am taking everything in and completely understand everything that is going on,” Raven said. “She also tells me that no matter what, I need to always outwork everybody who is on the floor. She has been helping me with my footwork and getting my shot off sooner.”
UT strength coach Lee McCormick has also been assisting Raven with a relentless boot camp, which features drills on the track and even football field. Raven has been running full-speed laps around the perimeter of the field, followed by 100 yards of defensive shuffles.
“It’s all just to get me tough,” Raven says. “I run a lot of hills. I run on the track. I work out on the football fields doing sprints. It has helped me so much. The first day, I felt like I was going to pass out. By the third day, I felt like I was back in shape.”
Raven says she plans to return to UT and continue her classes, but she also plans to play a full overseas schedule. She says she’s still transitioning mentally to the reality that she is now a professional basketball player.
“I really haven’t totally adjusted. I think once I get to Atlanta it is really going to hit me that I’m out of college, I’m grown, and that I can take care of myself,” Raven says. “I’ll have to adjust quickly. No matter what happens, whether I make the roster or get cut, I just want to learn from it and enjoy it.”
Raven, a three-time All-Big 12 Second Team honoree, led the Longhorns in scoring the past three seasons. She contributed 1,698 points in her four-year career as a starting guard, a mark that stands as the 12th-best scoring total in school history. Raven's 133 games played tied her for the seventh-most in UT's annals, while her 384 career free throws made rank fifth all-time and her 124 career 3-pointers rank seventh. She averaged 14.6 ppg for Texas last season and also contributed 4.9 rpg and 2.6 apg.
Now that her UT playing days are behind her, Raven is gaining perspective on what her four years on the Forty Acres have truly meant. She knows her time as a Longhorn shaped her into the person she is now.
“I came out of high school an All-American, All-World, and I didn’t leave college with any of those things. So, I think it was a learning experience that showed me, life may not go the way I wanted it to but you can still make it through,” Raven says. “I’ve learned so much about myself, and grown as a person.”