By Ben York
“I absolutely loved the Houston Comets growing up,” Allison Hightower said with a big smile after her first practice with the Sun in years. “I was a die-hard fan. I had season tickets and wanted to model my game after Cynthia Cooper. They were everything to me, and I knew early on when I was a little girl that my dream was to make it to the WNBA.”
Hightower’s dream came true in 2010, when the former LSU star was selected in the second round of the WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun.
Since then, however, her WNBA career has been anything but typical.
After two seasons of limited playing time, Hightower truly emerged in 2013. She was named a WNBA All-Star, averaged a career-high 13 points, three boards and three assists while shooting nearly 40 percent from the three-point line.
Unfortunately, significant knee injuries kept Hightower out of action for the better part of the last three years. Little did she know the same team that inspired so much joy while she was growing up would also be an indelible source of strength during the most difficult time of her life.
“Those were some really hard days, months and years,” Hightower reflected. “Surgery after surgery, rehab after rehab. I thought about giving up when it didn’t look like I’d ever be back. But those were also the times I kept thinking back to when I watched the Comets as a little girl and how much I wanted to be them. I owed it to myself, and that kept me going.”
Now fully healthy and back on the Sun roster in 2017, Hightower can’t help but smile – even after a grueling practice.
“I’m just so blessed to be out here,” she said. “Basketball isn’t just a game to me; it’s my life. I love the game. And I don’t mind working hard. I feel great; my body feels great. It feels surreal to be back on the court, actually.”
The longest-tenured member of the Sun, Hightower said the recent youth movement and overall vibe throughout the team has been infectious.
“Curt [Miller] has a really positive energy,” she said. “The assistants, staff, team, everyone is on the same page and it’s really refreshing.”
At the same time, Hightower knows the positive vibes and unity this Sun team has already formed doesn’t mean much if it fails to translate to the court.
“This isn’t just a job for us,” Hightower said with passion. “We’re here to play and we’re here to win. We haven’t made the playoffs since 2012. That’s a long time. That’s where we want to be and that’s why we work hard every day.”
Even though Hightower has not played a game for the Sun since 2014 due to her injuries the past, she hasn’t been far away.
“Oh, I’ve been watching closely,” she said. “The way the team ended last year was huge. There’s a sense that if we work hard enough and come together, we can continue to build upon that. “For me, that’s super exciting.”