University of Miami graduating senior Adrienne Motley was nervous watching the 2017 WNBA draft. She admits it.
But after being selected as the 32nd pick in the draft by the Indiana Fever, the anxiety is gone, and Motley is ready to go.
“I was nervous during the draft because I can’t control that, but I can control what I do on the court,” Motley said. “I have been playing basketball too long to be nervous about anything [on the floor].”
The 5-foot-9 guard from Newport News, Virginia, is set to travel to Indiana April 20. She will work out and have physicals done over the weekend, start a week-long training camp April 23 and then wait to see if she makes the team.
“It’s the game I love, it’s just a bigger stage and I can get paid for it,” Motley said, smiling. “Just another game, just another practice. I just have to raise my game.”
Motley watched the draft in the player lounge of the Watsco Center with her father, Adrian, best friend and trainer. After the announcement was made, she shared an emotional moment with her dad. Her dream had come true.
“I hugged my dad, it was real intimate,” she said. “We have been through a lot, and I thanked him for everything he has done because I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him and my mother.”
Motley said she made sure her dad was there with her to watch the selection process because he has always had a way of keeping her calm. As the night went on, she repeatedly hit her head on him as she waited for her name to be called.
He kept telling her, “You’re good, just calm down.” He stayed strong for his only child.
Motley’s father got her started in basketball when she was 5 years old. He was a referee, and she would follow him around the gym. Since then, he has made sure she has constantly had people around her that he trusted and that she was always in the best position to succeed.
He has been one of her toughest critics but also her biggest fan.
“I know that it meant a lot for him to see my name up there, so to share that moment was special,” Motley said.
Motley said that, immediately after the selection, her former Hurricanes teammates congratulated her through an influx of text messages.
“They were going crazy on WhatsApp, just telling me how proud they were of me and that we were going to celebrate,” Motley said. “It meant a lot. That was honestly the only thing I replied to right away.”
Another influential person for Motley was Miami Coach Katie Meier, who Motley says has been a “key point” in her career at UM.
Meier has always been a good communicator, always telling her what she needs to hear, Motley said. They have shared such a special relationship throughout the past four years that Motley said Meier’s congratulatory message was just more of the same.
Meier has said Motley keeps a lot in and isn’t very emotional, but, little by little, the UM Sports Hall-of-Fame head coach got more and more out of her star guard, especially after a tragic moment earlier in 2017.
“After my grandfather died, I opened up a little more,” Motley said. “[Coach Meier] really helped me out in that situation. Actually, I heard the news in her office, so she saw a side of me that people haven’t seen. She has just always been there. I don’t open up to a lot of people, but she always seems to get what she needs out of me.”
Motley said UM Sports Hall-of-Fame Assistant Coach and former Hurricane and WNBA player Octavia Blue, who was drafted No. 15 in 1998, was instrumental in the draft process and throughout Motley’s career at Miami. Motley has consistently gone to Blue to ask her questions and has always taken the answers to heart.
“As a coach in our program, we like to have that open relationship,” Blue said. “From the day that she stepped on campus, and she came in the same year I did, I was here for her when she had a bad day. After helping her, I think she just respected what I did throughout my career. She didn’t always like what I had to say, sometimes I had to say some tough things, but she used all the resources she had.”
This past season, Motley passed Blue on Miami’s all-time scoring list to obtain sole possession of the sixth spot. She said surpassing Blue was a goal and that she has always been chasing after the former Hurricane. Getting drafted was another goal as Motley continues to follow in Blue’s shoes.
“She had this little photo of me during my playing days and had printed the number that she needed to pass me on the page,” Blue said with a laugh. “She had it on her locker. I would joke around with her and tell her, ‘You know it gets tougher year after year.’ I always knew she would pass me but I gave her crap to motivate her.”
Blue says Motley has had a stellar career at the U and is proud of her achieving her ultimate dream. She spoke about giving Motley advice as she prepares to go up against the best of the best.
“Listen, you have to go in there and play your guts out,” Blue said. “This is another level, keep yourself positive. This is the pros, it’s a different mentality. You have to keep yourself motivated and focused.”
Motley is eager to play at the next level and is looking forward to going up against some of the athletes she grew up idolizing.
“I used to love Candice Dupree,” Motley said. “I was kind of excited because they sent a roster with all the phone numbers and I saw her number, and I’m like, ‘Dang, I used to love this lady.’ Now I’m about to see her in a couple days.”
When asked about her objectives for the WNBA, Motley said she just has to do what she can do to stay consistent and be a great player in the league.
Before leaving, she reflected on her four years at UM and showed pride in what she was able to accomplish.
“I just feel special and blessed,” Motley said. “Not many people have done the things that I’ve done in this program. Not many people get drafted every year. Just to be picked into that small batch of people, I’m just so grateful to be able to represent this organization.”
Motley is the fifth player ever drafted out of Miami. The three-time All-ACC selection will join former Hurricane Shenise Johnson on the Fever.