Krommenhoek and Bills opt not to pursue the prosJulie Krommenhoek and Alli Bills both remember the first time they picked up a basketball, the first time they snapped the net and left it hanging up on the rim and the first taste of the competition it brought. It became addicting, like a drug. You could say they became basketball junkies. They just couldn't resist the sport.
They gave everything to the game, which included all their free time in the offseason, a lot of blood and more effort than it probably deserved.And this is the thanks they get.
Despite performing well in every predraft camp and workout, none of the 10 WNBA teams selected either of them in Wednesday's draft, leaving both players without a team for, basically, the first time in their lives.
Basketball turned quickly on the two former Utes, basically kicked them in the teeth.
"We did all we could," said Krommenhoek. "I guess it just wasn't meant to be."
Bills led the NCAA in assists as a junior at Utah and finished second last season with an average of more than nine a game. With all the turnovers that plagued the WNBA's inaugural season, it would make sense for a team to grab a player who knows the meaning of "assist to turnover ratio."
But it looks like nobody on the WNBA's side saw things that way.
"I thought I did enough to prove myself," said Bills. "It's all about what a team's needs are, and I guess I didn't fit into what they needed. It's disappointing."
Bills' size may have scared off potential shoppers. She is only 5-foot-7 and has suffered two serious knee injuries, which led to her being labeled as a risk. Her being bypassed is more understandable than Krommenhoek's overlooking.
The four-time first-team All-WAC player seemed like a shoo-in to be snagged by somebody, especially considering the shooting woes that seemed to infect WNBA. Putting the rock in the rack was something fans didn't see a lot of from WNBA teams last year.
Krommenhoek has the potential to change any team's shooting woes. She owns the WAC and Utah career records for 3-pointers made in a career and knocked down an average of 3.6 this season, shooting over 43 percent from outside. Krommenhoek also owns the honor of most threes made in an NCAA Tournament game with eight against Louisville this year.
"I thought early on that I would be drafted for sure," said Krommenhoek. "But after the camps and workouts I started having some doubts. It's not a real surprise I wasn't drafted."
Krommenhoek's biggest problem lies in her style of play. The 5-9 guard is not one to create her own shot, instead relying on teammates to set screens to get her open. "At the camps I saw people my size playing every position. They were posting up and going inside a lot, which is what the league likes. That's not my game, though."
The two players now find themselves in a position they've haven't seen since before they were too young to dribble a ball. Both are facing the summer without thoughts of a next season.
"It's weird. We haven't had a summer off since we started college," said Krommenhoek. "We can finally get to do some of the things we've missed out on and have some fun. It will be exciting to see where we go from here."
Both are invited to try out as at the Utah Starzz free-agent camp this week, along with BYU's Kari Gallup, who was ineligible for the draft because she didn't sign a WNBA draft contract, but Bills and Krommenhoek aren't interested. The chance for one of the teams to grab one of the guards came and went with the draft.
"I would have played if I would have been drafted," said Krommenhoek. "Basketball has been wonderful, but there is more to life. I'm not interested in trying out for a team or going to another league. This was it for me."
Come June, both players will receive degrees in exercise and sports science, which they hope to use to become physician assistants.
"We'll have to go out and get jobs now; hopefully at a hospital somewhere," said Bills. "We didn't grow up banking on playing professional basketball, so that makes it easier. It's actually kind of a relief it's over so we can get on with our lives."
Of course, they don't mean giving up on the game which has given them so much.
"I'm not hanging up my shoes," said Krommenhoek. "I'll always play, but it will be just for fun with friends. I'll always love the sport."
Even if it did betray them.