Villanova star Siegrist insists she's undecided on WNBA

VILLANOVA, PA - JANUARY 17: Maddy Siegrist #20 of the Villanova Wildcats dribbles the ball against the Xavier Musketeers at Finneran Pavilion on January 17, 2023 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Maddy Siegrist had her shooting style compared to Larry Bird and she has set or is closing in on so many Villanova records that the Guinness Book should just keep her statistics.

She's been projected as a WNBA lottery pick and former Wildcats star and current New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson even suggested an immediate jersey retirement after her last game.

All that, and Siegrist still finds ways to let her teammates shine. Bella Runyan and Kaitlyn Orihel each hit three 3s in their first March Madness win. Christina Dalce grabbed 16 rebounds.

Any advice to the rest of the bracket on how to slow the team President Joe Biden picked to win it all?

"Stay at the hotel," Cleveland State coach Chris Kielsmeier cracked.

Siegrist and the Wildcats already gave the Vikings an early checkout of the NCAA Tournament and they'll try and bounce out Florida Gulf Coast on Monday night.

With a win against the Eagles (33-3) at the Pavilion, in front of another expected raucous home crowd, the Wildcats (29-6) would set a team record for wins in a season and reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003.

But is it really a Pavilion farewell for Siegrist?

The four-year star, 2023 first-team AP All-American and two-time Big East Player of the Year has — as do all athletes whose 2020-2021 season was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — an extra year of eligibility. Throw in some NIL money and maybe it's worth it for Siegrist to run it back with the Wildcats.

Eh, probably not.

ESPN has Siegrist as the No. 4 pick of the WNBA draft to the Washington Mystics and CBS Sports projected her as a slam dunk first-round pick. The WNBA draft is April 10.

"I wish it was an easy decision either way," Siegrist said Sunday. "When the time comes to make that, hopefully it’s in a few weeks, a lot more games. I’ll have to sit down with my parents and really think about it. Either way, I’m so grateful for all the opportunities Villanova has given me in the past bunch of years."

Coach Denise Dillon insisted no decision on Siegrist's basketball future has been made.

"Maddy is staying focused in as taking this team as far as we can go," she said. "When she steps on the floor, her full attention is to Villanova basketball. I guess that conversation will be had at some point in April."

Siegrist is sure to give the Eagles fits, The Eagles beat fifth-seeded Washington State on Saturday and have won more games as a 12 seed (three) than any other team in tournament history. Entering this season, 12 seeds were 29-112.

FGCU coach Karl Smesko has led the program to 13 straight 25-win seasons but has never won a second-round NCAA Tournament game. FGCU held the Cougars to 39% shooting from the floor and 27% from 3-point range.

They'll need a similar stout effort to stave off Siegrist and the Wildcats.

"We know that nobody's really been able to hold her under 20 points all season," Smesko said. "We just are hoping to make it so she's not as efficient as she usually is. If we can just have her make tough shots, which she is more than capable of doing, just not give her any easy points, that's in our game plan. We understand we can't just have one person. We need to guard her as a team."

The Eagles averaged 78.1 points entering the tournament and are ready for a slugfest. Consider, FGCU has five players who have scored 1,000 career points on the roster. Siegrist became the fifth women's player to score 1,000 in a season.

Just add her gaudy numbers to what already constitutes a fantastic sports season on the often dreary Philly scene

The Phillies are coming off another World Series appearance, and another defeat, this time to the Astros, and the Eagles lost the Super Bowl to Kansas City. The Sixers are soaring in the Eastern Conference with Joel Embiid and James Harden and the Union played for the Major League Soccer title.

But it's been a downer in college hoops. Villanova lost an NIT game a year after it reached the Final Four and none of the other five Division I teams qualified for March Madness. This was the first year since 1977 that Philadelphia did not have a men's team in the tourney. Villanova was the only women's Philly team to make the tournament.

"Just being the only team, I think that’s special because then everyone’s looking at us, they’re all rooting for us. It’s special to play for," guard Brooke Mullin said.

That puts more eyes around town on the Wildcats. Move over Embiid, Siegrist photos made the back page on Friday of the Philadelphia Daily News ("WILDCAT FORMATION") and the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer ("Pride of Villanova").

"What other team is there to root for? We’re here and we’re successful, so it’s really special," guard Maddie Burke said.

The Wildcats just hope they're not done making headlines.