Louisville's Kianna Smith talks at a press conference the day before the Cardinals face Michigan in the Elite Eight.  March 27, 2022

Louisville’s Kianna Smith looks to make immediate impact

Louisville's Kianna Smith talks at a press conference the day before the Cardinals face Michigan in the Elite Eight.  March 27, 2022

Derek Fisher — the former five-time NBA champion and coach of the Los Angeles Sparks — isn’t coy about his feelings about rookie and former Louisville guard Kianna Smith.

“As you were asking about her, her face immediately comes to mind in terms of how serious she is about her craft,” Fisher said. “Kind of reminds me of myself… Lamar Odom used to call me ‘Lil Pro’ because I always had a straight face. Not a lot of smiling and joking in practice.”

Despite being selected No. 16 overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft, her place in the league isn’t guaranteed.

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The Sparks have been active this offseason, bringing in stars Liz Cambage and Chennedy Carter to Los Angeles to compete for a title.

To make the team, Smith must carve out a role. She’s already trying to learn from her all-star caliber teammates.

“My dad just gave me some advice to be who you are,” Smith said. “Come in and be a sponge, learn from everybody and compete. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do every single day.”

Louisville's Kianna Smith tries to make the basket against Michigan.  March 28, 2022

Smith believes she brings a lot to the Sparks’ roster. She plans on stretching the floor and giving the Sparks a chance to work in the paint.

She played guard and a little bit of forward in college, so her length and shooting (43.6% from the field) could make her a valuable asset.

“She’s a really good basketball player,” Fisher said. “She can shoot well, a better ball handler and decision-maker than people think, so she’s had a great first couple days … we were excited to be able to draft her at 16 and she has a bright future.”

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