That’s been the mantra instilled to the Minnesota Lynx’s sixth overall pick Mikiah Herbert Harrigan in the 2020 WNBA Draft from coaches and teammates since the South Carolina product arrived in Minneapolis before training camp. The forward was taken as “a project” to develop at the 4-spot under the tutelage of Assistant Coaches Rebekkah Brunson and Plenette Pierson in Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve’s system.
Though behind Damiris Dantas and Napheesa Collier on the depth chart, Herbert Harrigan showed flashes of the shot-blocking defense that made her a fan favorite among the Gamecock faithful. She didn’t see action in the Lynx’s season opener, and made her debut on Tuesday’s loss to Seattle after the game was out of reach.
“Kiki and I had a conversation in Minneapolis, she wasn’t going to play,” Reeve said bluntly. “Where she was on the depth chart, it just meant that she wasn’t going to necessarily get as many opportunities early. But I told her every player in this league that’s a reserve player is an illness or an injury away from it being your time, your number being called.”
However, due to injuries to Karima Christmas-Kelly and Lexie Brown, the rookie’s number was called against the Chicago Sky on Thursday. ‘Kiki’ made her presence felt almost instantly, blocking the Sky’s Cheyanne Parker in the paint moments after stepping on the floor. Just a few moments later, Herbert Harrigan rattled in her first points as a pro, a corner three that hung on the rim for a split second.
“It felt great just getting out there and being able to make shots,” Herbert Harrigan said afterward. “For me I was focusing on trying to soak it all in, learn all the plays. Just soak everything in from all the players and coaches. Staying ready and being ready when my number was called.”
Not only did injuries present Herbert Harrigan the opportunity, but Sylvia Fowles fouling out late in Thursday’s game meant Herbert Harrigan had to be relied on as a lockdown defender in Chicago’s final possessions. The rookie’s defense helped the Lynx get three consecutive stops in the closing seconds as she finished with eight points and three rebounds to propel Minnesota to a 83-81 victory over Chicago.
“It’s tough when you’re playing behind Phee and DD, but she’s been able to learn,” teammate Rachel Banham said of Herbert Harrigan. “She’s gotten better every single day. She stepped up when we needed her.
“Being a rookie can be tough but she’s taking full advantage of it.”