The record-breaking crowd at Alaska Airlines Arena that watched the University of Washington women’s basketball team take on Stanford last season was deafening with its cheers. But Huskies star Kelsey Plum says she mainly heard heckles from a famous person sitting in the front row: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who was on hand to watch his sister Anna, a freshman guard at Stanford.
“Throughout the game I hear Russell just talking smack,” Plum said while co-hosting “Danny, Dave and Moore” on 710 ESPN Seattle on Tuesday.
The UW vs. Stanford matchup in January, in which the seventh-ranked Huskies fall in dramatic fashion to the No. 10 Cardinal, marked the first sellout for a women’s game in school history.
Plum, who broke the NCAA’s all-time scoring record and won the Naismith and Wade trophies that are given annually to the nation’s best player, said that despite the raucous crowd, Wilson’s voice was the one she heard.
“I can see him and I can hear him,” she said. “It’s sold out, but I don’t know why, I could hear just hear Russell. He’d be like, ‘Travel,’ and then I’d hit a shot and look at him and be like, ‘Ain’t nobody traveled. Nobody traveled.’ … I’m looking right at him and he’s laughing, we’re having a good time and stuff. I appreciated it. It’s cool because he was into the game. It didn’t go the way we wanted but it was a really fun game.”
From the perspectives of most of the UW players, Russell Wilson was the less popular member of Seattle’s most well-known power couple at the game. Plum said she went to the bathroom to wash her hands during warmups and ran into pop singer Ciara.
“There’s a woman in front of me, so I’m just waiting and she turns around and it’s Ciara,” Plum said. “I was like, ‘Whew, OK.’ I don’t get star-struck. I just think people are people. I know my teammates, though, and I know how much they love her and so I walk outside the bathroom and I didn’t know that they were coming to the game. So we walk out to warm up and I go, ‘Guys, Ciara’s here.’ … I kid you not, eight people turned and just stared at her.”
Plum also talked about the nation’s top recruit, Michael Porter Jr., who scrapped his commitment to UW after the school fired head coach Lorenzo Romar. Plum said she played pickup games all summer with Porter’s Nathan Hale High School squad, and watched Porter play a pickup game with current and former NBA players that included Jamal Crawford and ex-Huskies Isaiah Thomas, Nate Robinson and Spencer Hawes. She came away awfully impressed.
“Michael, to me, was the best player on the court, and it wasn’t even close,” she said. “In terms of the way that his ability to score, how big and athletic he is, and how he affects the game, he is Kevin Durant-esque. Obviously, it’s gonna take a couple years to get there, and his next evolution is being able to take contact at the rim – that’s probably the next step for him. But what Michael does … the dude is a pro. … I have no doubt in my mind that he’s special.”
Listen below for Plum’s take on the WNBA draft and playing pickup games with UW football players.