It should be synonymous at this point. Just as John Stockton is intrinsically linked to the word “Gonzaga University,” so too should be the progressing legacy of Courtney Vandersloot.
After securing the WNBA’s Peak Performer Award in assists for the fourth consecutive season, in which she averaged a hallmark 10 assists per game (APG) , it would simply be incomprehensible to rank Vandersloot among any less than the highest echelon of professional athletes who hail from GU.
Her 10 APG campaign this year is both the highest consistent output she’s had in that discipline throughout her career, and now doubles as the premier season assist average in WNBA history. And being the first WNBA player in history to average so many dimes a game that she’d consistently produce a dollar isn’t the only outstanding feat Vandersloot accomplished this season.
What may be most immaculate about Vandersloot during this mitigated season played on the IMG premises in Bradenton, Florida, was how she capped it.
On Aug. 31, she dished a league record 18 dimes en route to her Chicago Sky’s 100-77 stomping of the Indiana Fever. Including that game, Vandersloot finished out the last six regular season games averaging over 13 APG. Not a single NBA player, including this season’s assist leader Lebron James, managed to post a stretch that dominant this entire season.
“Just the way that she reads the floor; I know if I cut, I know she's going to see me,” teammate Gabby Williams said to NBC Chicago. “I know if I run the floor, I know she's going to see me. And I think she's the only point guard in the country that you can say that about.”
Her superior efficacy this season reaped her a bevy of accolades throughout the year — being honored as the WCC alumni player of the week twice, WNBA player of the week, and her first WNBA player of the month honors.
And while she has fallen just out of favor in this season’s MVP race, she is a sure-fire selection for All-WNBA first team, which will be her third all-time and second consecutive time earning the prestigious distinction.
In 2019, Vandersloot surmounted the league’s single-season assist record with 300 assists on the year, and posted her former best APG season with 9.1, which was the WNBA record in that category until her recent triumph. In fact, in the previous three seasons, Vandersloot managed to continually best both herself and the WNBA record books by progressively posting record seasons in APG.
The two-time all-star also averaged an additional career-best this season with 13.9 points per game, and her blooming shooting capabilities have landed her as second all-time in points in Sky history.
Because what's been truly exceptional about Vandersloot throughout the duration of her career has been her ability to constantly ascend in the many facets of her game. Whether it be assists, points or rebounds, which she posted a career best of 4.3 boards per game in 2019, Vandersloot’s offensive capacities have managed to extend past the limits thought attainable by most athletes during their playing careers.
“There are moments, I won’t say the game is in slow-motion for me,” Vandersloot told the Chicago Tribune. “But there are moments when things develop — I see them developing at a slower pace than I did a couple years ago.”
At the age of 31, Vandersloot is showing more than just progress, she’s demonstrating mastery. She already has the most double-doubles in WNBA history and has the fifth most assists all-time.
So as John Stockton sits upon the NBA’s assist throne as king, Vandersloot’s skills have her marching on a path toward WNBA royalty of her own. And along the way, let it not be remissed by GU spectators that Vandersloot is already at the forefront of the conversation for the greatest athlete to ever don a Zags uniform.