For a handful of programs in NCAA women’s basketball, the name of the team is intertwined with the name of a player — one who has defined that program’s successes during their time there and is more often than not the first and main topic of conversation whenever their team is discussed.
For the Villanova Wildcats (16-3; 7-1 Big East), that player is Maddy Siegrist, who has become virtually synonymous with the school’s women’s basketball program. The 6-foot-2 forward even has her own page on Villanova’s athletics website detailing all of her accomplishments, such as passing the milestone of 2,000 career points scored, a laundry list of conference and national honors and praise from opposing coaches — one being UConn’s Geno Auriemma, who referred to to Siegrist as “one of the top 10 players in the country.”
With such an extensive list of Big East awards and individual statistics that have gotten more and more impressive each season — culminating in what could be a National Player of the Year-worthy campaign in 2022-23 — it’s no wonder Siegrist is regarded as a future WNBA player. Let’s take a look at what makes her so special and how that may translate to the WNBA.
Honors and statistics
Siegrist has been scorching the nets and racking up awards since very early in her collegiate career. She was named Freshman of the Year in the Big East for the 2019-20 season, also earning First-Team All-Conference honors after averaging team highs in points (18.8) and rebounds (8.9) per game.
Since then, Siegrist has become more and more productive, averaging 22.8 points and 9.8 rebounds as a sophomore and 25.3 points (second in Division I) and 9.2 rebounds per game as a junior. Siegrist was also named the Big East Player of the Year during her stellar junior campaign while earning All-American Third Team honors from both The Associated Press and USBWA.
Entering her senior season, Siegrist was named to a slew of national player of the year award watch lists, including the John R. Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy and Wade Trophy. As expected, Siegrist was also named the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, and is currently on the watch list for the Katrina McClain Award, given annually to the nation’s top power forward.
Internationally, Siegrist recently competed for Team USA in FIBA’s 3×3 Nations League, playing alongside Aaliyah Moore (Texas Longhorns), Alyssa Ustby (North Carolina Tar Heels) and Maddy Westbeld (Notre Dame Fighting Irish).
Siegrist’s offensive versatility a luxury for Villanova
As one would expect from her gaudy volume statistics, Siegrist bears a heavy burden for the Wildcats. According to Her Hoop Stats, as a junior she recorded a usage rate of 33.5 percent, which was 20th among all Division I players. This season, it’s all the way up to 36.7 percent — 10th in Division I.
Siegrist has been remarkably efficient considering how much of Villanova’s offense runs through her, though, scoring 1.17 points per possession and shooting the ball at a 56.9 percent effective field goal percentage. Her value metrics are even more ridiculous: Siegrist’s player efficiency rating of 49.4 and 10.2 total win shares both rank second in the nation.
Siegrist’s versatile scoring package is a major reason for this. The talented forward boasts a wide array of offensive moves that Wildcat head coach Denise Dillon uses to great effect in the team’s slow-paced, methodical half-court offense, adjusting the ways Villanova gets Siegrist the basketball depending on the opponent. Take Villanova’s recent win over DePaul, for example: while Siegrist is currently shooting a career-high 40.5 percent from 3-point range, she shot just one long ball against the Blue Demons, instead doing most of her damage in the post and off the dribble against a smaller DePaul lineup. Time after time, Siegrist rose up to score seemingly effortlessly over her defenders, something Big East opponents have seen plenty of over the years; the release point on Siegrist’s turnaround jump shot is simply too high for most defenders to contest effectively, and, as demonstrated in the below highlight reel, she also has a knack for moving without the ball and getting herself into positions to score more efficiently (according to Synergy Sports, 17.9 percent of Siegrist’s possessions come on basket cuts, and she’s shooting 67.2 percent on those shots), making her a massive matchup problem against the majority of her opponents.
Highlights: Siegrist scores 32 against DePaul
As for the rest of Siegrist’s game, she’s recorded a steal rate of 1.9 percent or higher in each of her last three seasons at Villanova, and she’s currently blocking shots at a rate of 3.1 percent, which is a career-high. She won’t blow teams away in either department, but she uses her wingspan to her advantage when defending, as noted by Iowa State Cyclones head coach Bill Fennelly, who said that Siegrist is “a lot better defensively than she looked on video” after the two teams met earlier this season. It certainly helps that she rarely fouls; Siegrist’s foul rate currently sits at 3.3 percent (2.9 percent last season), which is impressive given how many minutes she plays and how important she is to her team’s success.
It’s fair to wonder just how much of what makes Siegrist such a terrific collegiate player will translate to the next level — something WNBA coaches and GMs are surely weighing as draft day approaches — as she won’t have the size advantage she enjoys in the Big East and would likely be asked to defend on the perimeter more often than she currently does.
On the other hand, though, Siegrist’s overall offensive skillset is one that, in theory, would fit on most WNBA rosters. Her three-level scoring ability — particularly as a mismatch hunter and a stretch big in smaller lineups — would be of benefit, and she certainly wouldn’t have as much on her plate as she does at Villanova. Whichever WNBA team drafts Siegrist will more than likely envision her playing in a secondary or tertiary scorer role that would emphasize her individual talents without asking her to do too much with the basketball in her hands.
Watch her play
The Wildcats have yet to face perennial Big East powerhouse UConn this season; their matchups with the Huskies on Jan. 29 (CBS Sports Network) and Feb. 18 (FOX) will be must-see TV. Villanova also has nationally-televised games against Creighton (Jan. 20; FS1) and Marquette (Feb. 1; FS2) on its schedule, and will close regular-season play on Feb. 27 against Seton Hall (FS1).
All statistics and team records for the 2022-23 NCAA season are current through Jan. 14, 2023.