By Jeffrey Swindoll
For the third straight year, the Baylor Lady Bears basketball team has a player in the mix for the 2014 Naismith College Player of the Year award. Brittney Griner won the award the past two years, and senior guard Odyssey Sims, if she wins, will be the only other Baylor player to win the award.
Sims is also on the watch list for the prestigious Nancy Lieberman Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top point guard in women’s Division I basketball. She would be the first Baylor player to ever win that award.
“Odyssey is just a special player, Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “She feeds off of her own success. One minute she is the off-guard, the other she is the point guard. I’m glad she is on my team.”
The No. 12 Lady Bears basketball team is thankful to have Odyssey Sims as a teammate, player and leader, but Sims’ role on the team is a task that the Lady Bears have been trying to establish since the beginning of the season.
One of the major themes for the team this season is overcoming inexperience and developing maturity.
Sims is the lone veteran with significant playing time, in terms of marquee games and amount of minutes over the years. Role players from past teams have been asked to step up this season as starters to help Sims.
Sims is leading both the Big 12 and the nation in scoring with 31.1 points per game, and is the program’s leader in three-pointers made. Even on an off-night, Sims expects to be a leader for the team in other ways.
“When my shots weren’t falling [against Connecticut], other people stepped up, and I have to continue to lead this team regardless of whether my shots were making it or not,” Sims said. “On nights like that, I have to continue shooting, and hopefully that can help us win with my shots being the offensive will.”
Mulkey acknowledges the Lady Bears’ overall level of inexperience as well as lack of size on the perimeter, but said Sims’ role on the team enables the team to still do great things on offense, even without the weapons they used to have.
“Odyssey’s very presence on the floor makes us better,” Mulkey said. “She’s not a ball hog or a selfish player. She believes she can make the shots she takes.”
If you don’t believe Mulkey, Sims’ numbers speak for themselves as she is the program’s all-time leader in assists, averaging 4.3 per game.
Sims has multiple facets to her game, and that is an asset for the Lady Bears.
“She can beat you off the dribble, she can shoot the three-ball, and a lot of times those good ones do not want to play defense, but we all know what she means to everyone on the floor defensively,” Mulkey said.
Sims’ versatility and talent on both sides of the ball make her a standout player.