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Seattle • Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird has starred on teams that won Olympics, world, WNBA and NCAA championships.
So when former BYU and Springville High School star Lexi Eaton Rydalch received a stamp of approval from Bird after the Storm's first exhibition game, observers paid attention.
"Lexi's doing a great job," Bird said. "I think, as far as third-round draft picks go, we got lucky.
"To me, her talent is much higher than that. She has a knack for scoring the ball, and she's always aggressive in that area."
Bird wasn't the only one offering praise for Rydalch after she scored eight points in 14 minutes off the bench in Wednesday's 81-73 loss to Phoenix at KeyArena.
"She's doing a lot of good things," Storm coach Jenny Boucek said. "I like her instincts. I like her attitude. I like her work ethic and competiveness."
Told of the remarks by Bird and Boucek, Rydalch was quick to laugh.
"That's more quotes than I'VE got [from them]," she said.
Boucek stopped short of guaranteeing Rydalch a roster spot. WNBA teams keep only 12 players, and Rydalch was drafted in the third and final round last month, the 26th pick out of 36 total.
"She's a good fit for what we want do here," Boucek said, "but we don't know how things are going to shake out."
The Storm could use some scoring punch from Rydalch, who ranked fifth in NCAA Division I scoring at 24.2 points per game last season as a senior at BYU, which reached the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons. Seattle's 2015 club finished 10-24 and ranked 11th among 12 teams in scoring at 70.4 ppg.
"I think I have a lot to offer," Rydalch said. "I'm definitely still learning. There's been a learning curve, but I'm trying to be an aggressive learner and to fail fast so I can succeed faster."
Bird said she was impressed when Rydalch kept shooting after her first shot a 3-point attempt from the left corner flew about 3 feet past the basket.
"It was totally nerves. I mean, obviously," Rydalch said with a sheepish grin.
"I was shooting everything short in warmups. Then when you get in a game, you all of a sudden have all this adrenalin and energy."
Rydalch hit 37.8 percent of her 3-pointers last season, but she regularly attacked the basket despite carrying 150 pounds on her 5-foot-10 frame. She ranked eighth in the nation with 239 free throws, and her aggressive drives Wednesday led to a game-high 10 free throws.
"The style of play and the tempo is very different," Rydalch said. "There's a lot more room for creativity and athleticism, where in college at least at my program it was more sets and half-court offense.
"Of course, in the WNBA, there's a lot more good players, athleticism, smart players who've been around the block."
The Storm play a second exhibition Sunday in Phoenix, then open the season May 15 at Los Angeles. Regardless of her WNBA fortunes, Rydalch said she plans to spend future winters playing professionally overseas.
"If it works out [with the Storm], then it does," she said. "If not, life goes on, too. I'm just going to give it my all."