By Phillip Ericksen
Compared to her teammates, junior guard Odyssey Sims is small, but that doesn’t mean her game is.
Standing at 5 feet 8 inches, the All-American has led the Lady Bears to another successful season. As the top-ranked team in the nation, the Lady Bears charge into the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments. Personal accolades are also on the way for her.
Sims is a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is given to the best point guard in the nation. She has averaged 12.2 points and 5.8 assists per game this season.
“It’s exciting,” Sims said. “I was nominated last year I think, so hopefully I’ll just keep playing and maybe I’ll win. That’s my biggest goal.”
A top high school recruit from MacArthur High School in Irving, Sims decided on a college career at Baylor because of its dominant program and proximity to home. The process was stressful for her, but she said she knows she made the right decision when she chose to play for head coach Kim Mulkey.
She plays on a team featuring one of the greatest women’s college basketball players of all time: senior center Brittney Griner. Sims embraces this opportunity of having such a resource at her availability on the court. “From the beginning of the season until now, their chemistry and trust in each other has continued to grow by a game-by-game basis,” associate head coach Bill Brock said. “They can read each other without looking at one another. Odyssey knows where Brittney wants the basketball, and Brittney can tell where Odyssey wants the outlet passes every time there’s a defensive rebound. They work so well together.”
Both players were named to the All-Big 12 First Team and the Big 12 All-Defensive Team.
“It’s just a joy to watch those two play together and show their skills on the floor,” Brock said.
Sims embraces her unique role on the team as a leader and role model for the other players as well.
Freshman guard Alexis Prince said she looks up to Sims and appreciates her guidance both on and off the court.
“She’s a good teammate,” Prince said. “Being the point guard, she’s a good leader. She helps you when you need help with anything.”
This translates into the Lady Bears’ offense, where distributing the ball through Sims is key to success.
“I take on a big role,” Sims said. “To lead the team, be the floor general on the court, and take control when Coach Mulkey can’t call plays when it’s down to the wire.”
The Lady Bears (29-1) seem to be constantly in rhythm while dominating at both ends of the court. The opportunity to complete their ultimate goal of winning another national championship looms as they are projected to be the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Sims maintains that the team is always trying to improve through drills and working on fundamentals in practice.
“We take it one day at a time,” Sims said. “We’re not focusing on staying perfect because you can’t be perfect.”
After a historic, undefeated season last year that ended in a national championship, the Lady Bears have continued their dominance since a two-point loss to Stanford early in the season. They quickly overcame that loss and continued on a 27-game win streak.
Sims said she has a wide range of emotions before a big game, especially one deep in the NCAA Tournament against a tough opponent such as Stanford or Connecticut.
Though she admits to being nervous before these games, her mindset is always focused, excited and hyped.
Sims said she gains this enthusiasm from a number of different inspirations.
“It’s a little bit of everyone I guess,” Sims said. “Some days it can be my coaches, some days it can be my momma, some days I can motivate myself.”
While Griner’s dominant plays make most of the headlines for Lady Bears basketball, Sims’ consistency on the court and willingness to accept the team’s philosophy of quickly moving the ball down the court is a huge factor in the team’s success, according to Brock.
“Odyssey Sims is the quarterback of our basketball team,” Brock said. “She is the one who directs traffic in all situations for us, whether it be in the fast break or the half-court set. We are always looking for the opportunity to run more and get more easy baskets in transition.”
As the postseason begins, Coach Brock said he realizes teams will be looking to slow the pace of the game. Fortunately, Sims can also run the Bears’ slower half-court offense with ease.
As six seniors leave the team at the conclusion of this season, an even bigger spotlight will be created for her during her senior season.
“With these six seniors leaving you will probably see us being able to run more scoring options for our perimeter players than we have in the past,” Brock said.
Moving forward into the postseason, the Lady Bears continue to feed off the energy and leadership of Sims and her chemistry with the rest of the team.
After all of the praise and accolades, Sims is confident in her answer of who can win a game of one-on-one between her and Griner.