Making an impact: Christofferson focuses on next step, signs free-agent deal with Phoenix


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Senior forward Hallie Christofferson signed a free-agent contract to attend camp with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, making her the 14th ISU player to go on to the WNBA.

Dylan Montz

She saw it almost everyday since she was a freshman.

When Hallie Christofferson walked into the ISU women’s basketball team room in the Sukup Basketball Complex, she would look at the back wall colored in cardinal. It’s a wall dedicated to “Cyclones and the WNBA,” former players who had gone on to play professionally beyond their days at Iowa State.

There are 13 faces and names of some of the most successful players in ISU women’s basketball history and Monday night, Christofferson set herself up to become the 14th face that will appear on the wall.

“It’s just something that lots of people see and they realize everybody’s hard work and how much work it takes to get there, so I’m happy to be on the board with all of those great names,” Christofferson said about the wall.

While she was not selected in the 2014 WNBA Draft on Monday, Christofferson signed a free-agent contract to attend camp with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury shortly after the draft’s conclusion. For ISU coach Bill Fennelly, it was hard to not see Christofferson’s name announced during the draft, but certainly recognizes the opportunity she has in front of her.

“I don’t understand that league a whole lot and I understand it less now,” Fennelly said of the WNBA. “I don’t know what they look for, but Phoenix was very excited. They were on the phone talking to her agent before the draft was even over. It might have worked out for the best.”

“The bottom line is she gets to go to a WNBA camp and it’s a great story from Exira, Iowa to a WNBA camp is quite an adventure, so I’m very proud of her and I’m sure she’ll go there and do very well.”

As the draft was happening Monday evening, Christofferson wasn’t set up in front of a TV watching it all unfold. She was attending the Iowa State student-athlete banquet, which recognizes the student-athletes from all of Iowa State’s varsity sports. Christofferson borrowed her sister’s ESPN account information so she could quietly watch the draft at her table as the banquet was proceeding, but was in communication with her agent and Fennelly at the end of the night.

Three or four teams were interested in bringing her to camp, Christofferson said, but she settled on Phoenix because of the team’s availability at her position. She believes she is best suited for a three-spot, which is what she primarily played during her junior year with the Cyclones.

“I have the height to post up, but the ability to shoot the three and step out on the perimeter,” Christofferson said of what skills could translate to the next level. “Most bigs can’t shoot 3-pointers, so that’s what I’ve been working on the most, just stepping away from the basket.”

With just 12 WNBA franchises and 12 roster spots on each team, it is hard for players selected in the draft to make the team in the regular season let alone as a rookie free-agent. Christofferson and Fennelly both recognize the challenges that come with going into a camp, and how “surviving every day” is the main goal.

“Iowa State kids know how to compete and she’ll compete and hopefully they’ll give her a good look. I think every day that goes by, it will be harder and harder to cut her and that’s what I told her,” Fennelly said. “You’ve just got to make them want you to come back tomorrow. If she can do that, like all of us, they’ll grow to love her and appreciate what she can do and hopefully that happens.”

Even though she knows which team she will be competing in camp with, there are still a lot of question marks in front of Christofferson. She said her and her agent are still determining when she will be travelling to Phoenix and is still figuring out what she needs to complete academically in the near future with graduation looming.

A roster spot in the WNBA may be difficult to obtain, but Christofferson said regardless of what happens in Phoenix, she sees herself spending time overseas playing in international leagues.

“I would like to do that just to get a sense of everything and travel the world while you’re doing something you love so I would like to do that,” Christofferson said.

While her basketball journey at Iowa State is over on the court, Fennelly sees something in Christofferson as a player and person that links her to those 13 faces on the wall in Sukup that came before her.

“You look at every single name on that board. All of those people impacted Iowa State — being there four years — but they’ve continued to impact our school,” Fennelly said. “I think that’s a legacy that goes a long, long way and Hallie is going to be one of those people and can’t wait to get her picture up there with those others.”