Sky forward Jantel Lavender isn’t the type of player who can sit still for too long.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that even though she has a cast on her left leg and has to push herself around on a scooter, Lavender has found a way to keep herself busy and involved for the rest of the regular season.
Lavender will join broadcasters Lisa Byington and Patricia Babcock-McGraw in the booth for the Sky’s last three home games, which are on The U Too, WCIU’s sister channel. She’ll make her first appearance Friday for the Sky-Mystics game. Then, Lavender will join the female duo for the Sky’s game against the Wings next Thursday and when the team hosts the Mercury on Sept. 1.
“I love basketball,” Lavender said. “So if you can’t play it, you might as well talk about it.”
Lavender approached the Sky about having a potential broadcast internship earlier this month after she had what is like season-ending surgery on her left foot. They obliged and the next thing she knew she was schedule to sit in with Byington and Babcock-McGraw on Friday.
“It was a quick turn around,” she said.
But Lavender isn’t nervous. She has nine years of WNBA playing experience and knows the league and its players like the back of her hand. She has also been a guest analyst for several Ohio State basketball games.
Coach James Wade called Lavender the “ultimate pro” and thinks Lavender could have a bright future in broadcasting. However, he hopes she doesn’t make the career shift for another few seasons.
“I hope she’s not that good because I want her to still be a player,” Wade joked. “I know she’s good. There’s no doubt about that.
“It’ll be good for her to do it in the offseason a little bit, too, and get a feel for it,” Wade continued. “That way the transfer from player to whatever she wants to do is clean and swift, and she can be just as passionate about her after-playing career as she was in her playing career.”
Lavender, who seems like she’d be a natural in the booth with her bubbly personality and vast basketball knowledge, looks up to her friend and former Sparks teammate Candace Parker, who is a studio analyst for CBS Sports Network and NBA on TNT.
“I watch her a lot and see how she articulates the game,” Lavender said. “She’s so wise, and extremely basketball savvy, but it’s just a matter of knowing the game. ... Right now so I feel comfortable and confident.”
Lavender, who has one more season remaining on her current WNBA contract, is hopeful that she can join several other active WNBA players — including Parker and Sparks star Chiney Ogwumike — as a full-time basketball analyst during the offseason.
“If I enjoy it enough and I can still be around my family, I think anybody would take the option to stay in the States,” Lavender said. “So I hope it works out or at least leads to some more opportunities.”