Indiana women’s basketball’s Grace Berger declared for the upcoming WNBA Draft on Tuesday.
The Hoosiers were Berger’s team for the past two years, the guard having led Indiana to its deepest NCAA Tournament run in program history in 2021, the Sweet Sixteen in 2022 and a Big Ten Championship in 2023.
Indiana made the NCAA Tournament in four of Berger’s five seasons in Bloomington, with the lone miss being the cancelled 2020 event. She joined the program in 2018 after starring at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville, Kentucky.
On and off the court, here’s what the league is getting in Berger:
On the court
Berger is exactly what you want in a combo guard. She’s physically as strong as they come and has decent length. They will tell you that she’s not as tall has her rostered height of six foot and I am here to tell you that they are lying.
Berger has a fantastic understanding of offensive spacing and where her whole unit is at all times. Her court vision and awareness is incredible to watch in-person. Here’s what normally happened when Berger carried over halfcourt at Indiana:
Option A: She gets to the rack
Berger is great off the bounce. She has an excellent first step and can kick it into gear from anywhere on the floor. With the best handles of anybody on the team, she’s able to drive left or right with ease to counter whatever her defender is giving her. She normally finishes off the glass and has a knack for driving into contact, often drawing fouls below the basket.
The thing I enjoyed the most about watching Berger play at Indiana was the way she understood the tempo and flow of a game. She knows when to push and when not to and I can’t think of a time she’s ever been wrong in this regard. Grace Knows Ball and has the intangibles she’ll need to carve a niche at the next level.
Option B: A crisp pass
Berger really developed as a passer during her time in Bloomington. Her assists per game figure rose every season and her 5.8 mark was fourth-best in the Big Ten this past season.
She’s able to make all the standard passes you’d expect at a high level, but she’s also fully capable of multiple no-looks while guiding the ball past defenders. She’s a gifted passer and once her teammates gel with her, good luck finding a way to stop her.
Option C: Midrange Automation
This is where Berger really makes her money. We’ve seen her iconic midrange shot time and time again, and the only word we’ve really got left to describe it is “textbook.”
If Indiana has ever really needed a shot and Mackenzie Holmes is facing a double team down low, that just opens up an opportunity for Berger to get open off the dribble to keep the defense honest.
Defensively, Berger is tenacious and hyper-aware. She has faith in her teammates to handle their assignments but, just like on offense, nothing on the court escapes her notice. Her peripheral vision is elite as she maintains awareness of her assignment while keep track of ball movement.
The only gripe you could have with her game is the lack of a consistent 3-point shot. Berger found others to take those far more often than she attempted herself. But one issue like that is fixable and anyone who knows Berger is well aware that she has the work ethic to render that a non-issue.
but that’s just on the floor. Berger will be best remembered in Bloomington for what she meant to Indiana’s program
accolades, great teammate, overall outstanding Hoosier. Whatever team lands her is getting a truly extraordinary talent and person.
Off the court
Berger is a leader. The Hoosiers were her team this past season, everyone from her teammates to Teri Moren herself were quick to acknowledge that.
A good example of this is Sydney Parrish, who repeatedly said she was mindful that players like Berger and Holmes had been at Indiana from the start of its rise. She wasn’t coming to Bloomington to take over as a leader, a role she too fills naturally, and made sure she fit into Indiana’s established culture.
Berger leads vocally and by example, her work ethic has helped Indiana reach new heights and has become the standard in Bloomington.
She’s not necessarily going to take over a franchise with an established culture in place, she’s mindful of that like Parrish, but she has the ability to lead if called upon.
Whoever drafts Berger is getting one of the most electric, precise players in the game. Not to mention all the jersey sales from Indiana fans.