SAN ANTONIO — Last year around this time, East Central High School product NaLyssa Smith learned a valuable lesson finishing her first season at Baylor.
"It helped me a lot with my confidence knowing coach believed in me to put me in and I got to showcase my talents,” Smith said over the phone.
Smith logged a surprising 17 minutes in the 2019 National Championship after star Lauren Cox went down with an injury. The freshman went 7-of-9 from the field helping her squad win a title. A repeat championship was in the works for 2020.
"Those kids will get us back here I promise you that,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said on the stage with confetti around her.
It led to another lesson ending her sophomore year.
"I mean it just teaches you to play every game like it's your last game because you never know what's going to happen and how it's going to end,” Smith said.
The pandemic has brought her back home to San Antonio. Back with her family just like the high school days.
"I've just been working out with my mom and dad,” Smith said. “We've just been conditioning and doing weights and stuff."
Returning to her roots is a nice reminder for the rising junior.
"It's just a nice feeling knowing the city has your back because that's not always common,” the 2018 McDonald’s All-American said.
San Antonio is not just where she came from, but it is also where she wants to go. The 2021 Final Four is in the Alamodome.
"I already know everyone's going to come to show out so I'm using that as my biggest motivation this year to get to the city,” Smith said.
Her entire collegiate experience building up towards a goal she's had since a Hornet.
"WNBA is my main goal really. I got high goals in everything I do so I want to be the No. 1 draft pick."