Epiphanny Prince: WNBA All-Star and Final Four Factor
Epiphanny Prince was drafted No. 4 overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft after helping lead Rutgers to its second Final Four and first national championship game in college, and the guard has been in the W ever since.
Now more than 10 years into being a pro, Prince is with her fourth team starting in 2020: the Seattle Storm. Previously, she played for the Chicago Sky, the franchise that drafted her, and the New York Liberty, then served a short stint with the Las Vegas Aces. She has been named to multiple WNBA All-Star Games, is a double-figure scorer for her career and made big news when she left Rutgers one season early to pursue an overseas contract for a season. Let’s break it down.
Welcome to Career Moments, a Nothing But Nylon series that delves into the major moments of a player, coach or other figure’s career in basketball to give you a snapshot of some of the top things they’ve accomplished and when, plus allowing you the opportunity to relive past glories and celebrate current successes.
Epiphanny Prince Career Moments
Epiphanny Prince Scores 113 Points in a High School Game
Prince attended Murry Bergtraum High School in New York City, and in 2006, she scored 113 points in a massive blowout victory over Brandeis High School, 137-32. It broke the girls’ national prep scoring record from 1982 that Cheryl Miller formerly held by eight points.
Her performance made national headlines, some good, and some not so good. There was criticism of her coach for allowing her to remain in the game and destroy the obviously-outmatched opposition to that degree but also praise for Prince for the accomplishment.
“It probably would’ve been more newsworthy if the 10th player on her team had scored double figures in that game,” Jersey City St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “I have no idea what the intent was, or what was accomplished here. It’s lost on me.”
Some were in awe of what Prince did.
“It’s an amazing thing when an individual does that,” LeBron James said in 2006. “I don’t know who she is, but maybe we’ll see her in the WNBA. For that matter, the NBA.”
2007 National Championship Game
After coming to Rutgers as a highly-touted high school star, Epiphanny Prince made an immediate impact as a freshman. She was part of the team’s three-headed scoring monster, partnering with Kia Vaughn and Essence Carson to create a dynamic offensive attack. Prince averaged 12.2 points, 2.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 steals per contest in her first college season.
Her personal success was one piece of the pie for the 2006-07 Scarlet Knights. They had a successful Big East season, going 12-4 in conference, and then followed it with their first-ever Big East Tournament title, knocking off top-seeded Connecticut in the championship, 55-47.
It only got better from there. As the No. 4 seed in the Greensboro Region, Rutgers proceeded to handle No. 13 seed East Carolina and No. 5 seed Michigan State by double digits to reach its third Sweet 16 in a row. Prince and the Scarlet Knights were tasked with No. 1 seed Duke in that round, and they pulled off the stunning upset, 53-52, cementing themselves as the underdogs of the tournament.
They conquered No. 3 seed Arizona State, 64-45, in the Elite Eight for the second Final Four appearance in program history. The incredible, stifling defense they displayed earlier in the tournament was turned to another level in the national semifinal as they held No. 3 seed LSU to merely 35 points as the Scarlet Knights routed the Tigers, 59-35, for a spot in their first-ever national championship game.
Rutgers would fall, 59-46, to No. 1 seed Tennessee in the ultimate game, but the run was enough to put the program in the national spotlight and indirectly lead to the firing of Don Imus.
Leaves College Early to Play Overseas
In the summer of 2009 after her junior year, Epiphanny Prince decided it was to time to cash in on her hard work. The player elected to leave Rutgers early and forgo her senior year to play pro ball in Europe for a season before entering the WNBA Draft.
Prince was not the first woman to leave school early to go pro. That title goes to Candace Parker. But she was the first woman to go overseas for a year, and it became a national story.
“It was her decision and solely her decision,” her former AAU coach, Apache Paschall, told the New York Daily News in 2009. “It was the best decision for her and her family at the time. She just felt like it’s her time. The time is right. She has the chance to make six figures. She’s one of the rare kids that can go there and pull that off.
“She’s a pioneer for women now. After her first pro season, she definitely want to play in the WNBA.”
Prince was considering offers to play in Russia, Turkey, Greece and Israel and ultimately played for Spartak Moscow (Russia) and Botas Spor (Turkey) before entering the 2010 WNBA Draft. When she left school, she was 10 units away from a degree in criminal justice and African-American studies, which she said she intended to finish.
Drafted No. 4 Overall in 2010 WNBA Draft
With the No. 4 pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft, the Chicago Sky selected Epiphanny Prince. The player was in Turkey at the time.
“I was happy because I could see it in (my parents’) eyes and with my dad going speechless that I made them proud,” she said in a phone interview from Turkey. “They’re proud of me because I can finally live my dream.”
Prince was one of two Rutgers players taken in the 2010 WNBA Draft as her teammate, Rashidat Junaid, was picked by the Los Angeles Sparks in the third round with the No. 32 overall selection. Prince’s rival since high school, Tina Charles of Connecticut, went No. 1 in the draft to the Connecticut Sun. The Minnesota Lynx were the only other team to pass on Prince, using the No. 2 and No. 3 picks to take Monica Wright (Virginia) and Kelsey Griffin (Nebraska).
First WNBA All-Star Game Appearance
In her second WNBA season, Epiphanny Prince already did enough to earn a spot at the All-Star Game. After coming off the bench for much of her rookie year, her sophomore campaign in the W found her starting regularly and taking advantage of it. Prince averaged 13.6 points, 3.0 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals per outing in 2011, making her the Sky’s second option behind Sylvia Fowles.
Unfortunately, Chicago didn’t have as successful of a season as Prince did individually, finishing 14-20 and outside of the postseason.
2014 WNBA Finals
It took a few seasons from when Prince arrived in Chicago for the Sky to go from perennial playoff outsider to contender, but it happened. In 2013, Prince and Chicago both played in their first WNBA Playoffs, falling in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Indiana Fever, 2-0. In 2014, though, they both returned to the postseason, and this time made a much bigger impact.
The Sky went just 15-19 during the 2014 regular season, but it was still enough to see the postseason as the last team in from the East. The Atlanta Dream were their first opponent as the No. 1 seed in the East, but they finished 19-15 to get there, a sign of the openness in the conference.
Chicago capitalized on that, upsetting the Dream, 2-1, and then exacted revenge on the Fever, 2-1, in the Eastern Conference Finals. Prince was important to the team’s run to the WNBA Finals, putting up double-digit scoring efforts in three of the six games required to reach the ultimate series, plus dished five or more assists twice.
The Sky met the Phoenix Mercury, the No. 1 seed in the West, in the Finals, and lost, 3-0. In Game 2, Prince made her mark, going for 15 points and three steals, though it wasn’t enough for Chicago to get the W.
Traded to the New York Liberty
In the winter of 2015, the Chicago Sky shipped Prince back home to New York City as part of a deal with the New York Liberty.
Prince joined New York in exchange for Cappie Pondexter, putting Prince on the same squad as Tina Charles, whom she had storied battles with for most of her life. New York was where Prince grew up, where she won four PSAL titles at Murry Bergtraum in high school and made one of her first large, public basketball appearances: a halftime exhibition at Madison Square Garden when she was 12.
“To be able to come home and try to win the championship with my home team and do it in front of my family and friends is very exciting for me,” she told Lois Elfman of the New York Amsterdam News in 2015.
The trade also reunited Prince with her teammates at Rutgers, Essence Carson. Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer was thrilled to have the two of them together on his roster.
“When I was playing in the NBA, I thought one of the greatest things was for players to live in the town they played in,” he told Elfman. “It’s difficult in a women’s league because they play all over the world. The next best thing would be to have players from the area that they’re playing in because there is a sense of ownership and a sense of pride.”
2017 EuroLeague Champion
Prince continued to her overseas career during the WNBA offseasons, and in 2017, she was part of a FIBA EuroLeague title with Dynamo Kursk of the Russian Premier League.
The team met Fenerbahce of Turkey in the event’s final and pulled away in the final quarter, 77-63, the first championship in the club’s history. Kursk went undefeated through the entirety of the regular season and postseason, capping off a historic run with the ultimate goal. Prince led the team in assists with seven and steals with four and was instrumental in the squad’s success that night and throughout the season.
There were some incredible names on both sides that played in this one, and it was quite the contest. If you haven’t seen it (and you probably haven’t), I recommend checking it out.
Epiphanny Prince Joins the Las Vegas Aces
After no deal was reached to keep Prince in New York beyond 2018, the player became a free agent. She didn’t sign anywhere in the WNBA until late in the year, electing to ink with the Las Vegas Aces in August 2019 for the remainder of the campaign: three regular season games and the playoffs. A spot had opened on the roster, and the Aces were looking for a guard with playoff experience.
“Piph was by far the best available player out there,” Las Vegas general manager Dan Padover said to Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com. “She can spread the floor, she takes care of the basketball and is an active defender who will hopefully bolster our depth out on the perimeter.”
Prince featured sparingly in six games for Las Vegas in the regular season and postseason. The Aces went to the Semifinals, defeating the Chicago Sky in the second round before the Washington Mystics took them out, 3-1.
Prince Signs with the Seattle Storm
After her contract expired with Las Vegas, Prince signed with the Seattle Storm on Feb. 24 this past (and, because of the coronavirus, current) offseason.
“I’m very excited about coming to the city of Seattle and joining a great organization,” Prince said in a team statement. “I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started with my new teammates and coaches.”
It will be Prince’s 11th season in the WNBA.