The WNBA has had its share of sensational scorers, but Chennedy Carter has joined that list just six games into her pro career. On Thursday, the Atlanta Dream rookie guard scored 35 points, becoming at age 21 years, 9 months the youngest player in league history to score 30 points or more, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Dream fell 93-92 to Seattle on Thursday, moving the Storm to a league-best 5-1. Seattle was led by 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart with 27 points and eight rebounds, but Carter individually stole the show for Atlanta (2-4).
Carter, the No. 4 pick overall by the Dream, has made herself the early favorite for WNBA Rookie of the Year, an honor that has gone to two other No. 4 picks: Portland's Jackie Stiles in 2001 and Dallas' Allisha Gray in 2017.
"I'm a kid that's just going to continue to play hard, stay within our system," Carter said. "I'm still trying to focus on getting us more wins. I'm not so much worried about awards; I'm worried about getting those wins."
Carter was espnW's national freshman of the year in 2018, and is the only Texas A&M player to earn All-America honors and be a first-team All-SEC selection her first three seasons. Throughout her junior season in 2019-20, there was little doubt that Carter would be headed early to the WNBA. Because she turns 22 this year -- in November -- Carter was eligible for the 2020 draft.
And while the coronavirus pandemic delayed her debut, Carter has been well worth the wait. She helped rally the Dream against Seattle, the team picked by many to win the league this season. Atlanta trailed the Storm by 15 points after the first quarter, but nearly climbed all the way back in the second half.
Carter played 36.5 minutes and went 11-of-17 from the field -- 3-of-4 from 3-point range -- and was 10-of-10 from the foul line. She also had 7 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.
"We had an incredible individual performance from Chennedy," Atlanta coach Nicki Collen said. "I think the biggest thing is she was good offensively through four quarters. We've talked about how she's been aggressive early in games and been aggressive late. She kept her foot down most of the night. She had to, because of the way they defended us. She obviously is hard to guard one-on-one.
"The one thing Chennedy has to continue to do is battle through fatigue, which isn't easy. But she's got young legs. She had to play a lot of minutes, because we struggled with their pressure when she wasn't in the game."
Carter became the third rookie in Dream history to score at least 30 points; Angel McCoughtry did it in 2009 (34) and Brittney Sykes in 2017 (33). Carter has scored in double figures in all six games thus far, and is averaging 20.3 points, second to Connecticut veteran DeWanna Bonner (20.5) in the league.
"I still need to work on things; I had turnovers tonight I shouldn't have had out there," said Carter, who had six turnovers. "But overall, I was just picking and choosing when to come off the ball screen, when to find my teammates, when to pass and create."
Carter averaged 21.3 points as a junior at Texas A&M, and 22.5 points for her career there. She has transitioned to the WNBA without missing a beat.
"Carter was really something," Seattle coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "We tried to throw almost everything, including the kitchen sink, at her. She's a good one.
"She's just a scoring machine. She's one of those gifted players who can score in a variety of ways. She's tough. She split some traps; we tried to get [the ball] out of her hands. She's really good at finding a way to get to where she needs to get to."