Jaime Hull couldn’t help herself. Her daughter figured to be picked in the WNBA draft, so she had her phone out to record every single pick on the TV. You know, just in case.
Never mind Lexie Hull wasn’t predicted to go in the first round. Lacie Hull, Lexie’s twin sister, tried to warn her mom.
“We’re like, ‘You might be doing that for a while,’” Lacie said.
Then, with the No. 6 pick, Lexie’s name flashed on the screen. She was the newest member of the Indiana Fever.
“We’re not surprised that she has the talent or that somebody believes in her, but (with) the projections and expectations that are built up on social media, we definitely were surprised,” Lacie said. “It was like, ‘Oh my God, are you kidding? This is insane.’”
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No one has a better sense of what Lexie brings to the Fever than her sister. The pair have been inseparable since birth, playing basketball together all the way through their time at Stanford.
“Competitiveness can’t be boiled down to stats, and that’s something I’ve definitely learned as her teammate and her sister,” Lacie said. “She pushes everyone she plays with and against to be better. That’s something I’m really excited for the Fever to experience. It’s not something that you can see from a stat sheet. She’s gonna make her presence known just by the competitive spirit that she has.”
Lexie Hull was a fighter from the minute she was born six weeks premature, placed on a ventilator with her twin sister Lacie, each weighing 4 ½ pounds. Lexie and Lacie would compete on the driveway growing up, playing 1-on-1. They’d play each other at the neighborhood center, sometimes bursting into tears.
If one of them won a few games in a row, there was no stopping until they’d both won at least once.
“She wants to win, and she’s gonna do what it takes to win,” Lacie said.
They competed in the classroom, with Lexie often asking Lacie what she got on a test or what her GPA was. Lexie was a two-time first-team Academic All-American and was the Senior CLASS Award winner, as well as the NCAA Elite 90 Award winner (given to the player with the highest GPA at each championship site). She is still finishing classes online while participating in training camp.
“Having to juggle that and practices has definitely been a transition,” Hull said. “It’s something that I’m working on, trying to figure out how to manage my time and get enough sleep in there.”
Stanford associate head coach Kate Paye described Lexie’s persona as “no-holds-barred”.
“She’s just gonna go hard,” she said. “Her mother told me once, ‘Tell her to run through a brick wall, she’ll put her head down and run through the wall.’ She has no fear.”
She started 99 of the 100 games she played at Stanford from her sophomore through her senior season. Her scoring numbers were consistent, topping out at 13.6 points per game as a sophomore, but her defense took a big leap from her junior season to her senior season. She led Stanford with 78 steals (2.2 per game) during the team’s run to the Final Four last month. Pay lauded Hull’s versatility.
“She’s probably highly underrated as a defensive player,” she said. “She would oftentimes this year guard the opposing team’s best player. She has good size, she has good length. Maybe people are excited about her offense, but they’ll be just as excited, if not more excited, about her defense and rebounding.”
Prior to her sophomore year, Team USA came to Stanford to play an exhibition game against the Cardinal. Hull put on a show.
“She was scoring on Diana Taurasi and the best players in the world. She was fearless,” Paye said. “I’ve read some things online where they’re not sure if she’s quick enough or could stand up to the physicality. That’s ridiculous. She is a phenomenal athlete. She is in great shape. She’s strong, she’s quick.”
Offensively, Hull’s consistency is mixed with flashes of brilliance. She scored 36 points in 36 minutes against Kansas in the Sweet 16 on 14-of-21 shooting, including six 3-pointers and six steals. She scored 20 (7-of-14 shooting) against Texas in the national semifinal. The Fever front office thought Hull was “the best pure shooter” in the draft, and didn’t know if she’d be available when the No. 10 pick came around.
“In my first talk with them, it felt like I was checking off a lot of those boxes,” Hull said. “They wanted someone who was competitive, who hated to lose, who worked hard every possession, and who could shoot the ball. My entire time at Stanford, those are the things that I loved doing.”
The Fever prioritized bolstering their frontcourt with their first two picks in NaLyssa Smith and Emily Engstler. They’re hoping Hull can provide a spark for an offense that ranked third-worst in field goal percentage and worst in 3-point percentage last season. Hull shot 41% from the floor and 39% from behind the arc as a senior.
There are plenty of roster moves to be made before the May 6 season opener, so Hull’s role is still up in the air. But Fever coach Marianne Stanley said there is “no doubt” Hull has first-round talent.
“She’s someone who can shoot the ball,” Stanley said. “She’s played at a high level her whole career at the college level, and I think is ready to take the next step in that career to be a pro.”
The biggest challenge for Hull, at least initially, might come in the form of an absence. She flew to Indianapolis for the first time last week. This week, she stepped onto a basketball court for the first time she can remember without her sister by her side.
“It’s crazy that I’m in the gym now and she’s not here,” Hull said. “It’s the first time that’s ever happened. It’s definitely an adjustment period on and off the court. We’ve been in the same city our whole lives. Not having that person to hang out with all the time, it’s definitely a transition.”
It’s an adjustment for Lacie, too.
“We’ve been apart for a week or two weeks before, but it’s weird not knowing when that time is going to end,” she said. “She’s living an entirely different life, and it’s not one that I’m even aware of. Usually when we’re apart, I know what she’s doing. But it’s so exciting because she’s on an entirely new frontier.”
The Fever aren’t putting any pressure on Hull to prove her merit as the No. 6 pick. She’s not planning on doing anything out of the ordinary, either. The things that got here are what she’ll use to keep going.
“I just hope I can prove that’s the right decision,” she said, “just play my game and be who I am.”