Callie Lind is more than a feel-good story.
Still, Washington women’s basketball coach Jody Wynn loves to tell the tale of the Husky sophomore who rose from the practice squad to a walk-on to a scholarship recipient and to a dangerous three-point specialist in little over a year.
“It can’t come to a better kid,” Wynn said. “And it wasn’t just we’re giving out scholarships. I mean, she’s just flat-out earned it. She earned her playing time this year.”
But first a little context is needed to understand how far Lind has traveled in a short amount of time.
Last year, Lind enrolled at UW as a pre-engineering major and had seemingly put an end to a decorated playing career in which she garnered Class 4A third-team all-state honors while helping Eastlake High to a 2019 state championship.
“I had some opportunities to go and play at other schools, mostly Division II and Division III, but I decided I was ready to be done with basketball,” said Lind, who averaged 10 points, 4.0 assists and 2.6 steals as a senior at Eastlake. “Once I came to school here, I got pretty bored.
“I was fine all summer playing some pickup. I was distracted by friends and stuff and didn’t notice that I really missed it until I got here.”
Lind sent an email to the UW coaching staff and asked if she could join the team’s practice squad, which netted an audition.
“She was in incredible shape for somebody that wasn’t actively playing basketball,” Wynn said. “She’s like, ‘Yo, I’m at the IMA playing pickup with my friends all the time.’
“There’s not too many girls that once their high school careers are over and they step foot on a college campus if they’re not on a team or just going to go play pickup. She’s like a hoop junkie … and I just was attracted to that.”
Wynn gave Lind a spot on the practice squad and after three or four practices there was an opening on the roster due to a rash of injuries, which prompted a promotion to join the team as a walk-on on Nov. 20, 2019.
“Of course, I said yes,” Lind said. “I didn’t expect much except obviously to help with practice and just work hard.
“As soon as I got the opportunity to work on my game after the season was over that’s pretty much all I did during quarantine. I just worked out a ton.”
Lind spent the summer at Eastside Basketball Club in Redmond training with coaches she’s known since she was 8 years old and credits them for refining her jump shot. She got to the gym early in the morning and left late at night while attempting 750 to 1,000 shots a day.
“I knew that’s the one thing I can offer since I’m not tall or super-duper athletic,” said Lind, who has long admired Duncan Robinson, the former Division III star who transferred to Michigan and rose to NBA stardom with the Miami Heat as a undrafted three-point specialist. “You can pretty much find a role on any team at any level if you can shoot.”
At the start of fall training camp, Wynn knew she wanted to give Lind a scholarship but initial plans to surprise her with an announcement were upended when a team retreat was canceled due to coronavirus protocols.
Following a late November practice, Wynn offered Lind a scholarship while her teammates cheered and her parents watched via Zoom.
“That was really cool,” Lind said. “It made it feel like all the work was worth it because I was definitely skeptical if I was ever going to earn one because of the number of girls we have coming in next year. So to see all my work I put in and some of the sacrifices I made pay off felt really good. It was just nice.
“I honestly never thought of my story as being crazy, but everyone else has told me that what I did was pretty crazy. It all happened pretty fast.”
But as Wynn noted, Lind is much more than a feel-good story and is a one of the reasons why Washington has started 4-3 and 1-3 in the Pac-12 heading into the 2 p.m. game Friday at Colorado (3-4, 1-3).
The 5-foot-9 shooting guard has carved out a spot in the 10-player rotation while averaging 5.1 points and 15.7 minutes a game. Lind leads the Huskies with 10 three-pointers coming on 25 attempts for 40% shooting.
“We told her, you better sprint to your spot and get your feet set and just be a ready receiver,” Wynn said. “You know, don’t try to do too much.”
All but six of Lind’s 31 overall field-goal attempts have been behind the arc. She converted 7 of 14 three-pointers in the first four games, but has made just 3 of 11 in the past three outings.
“Nobody had film on me or anything at the start of the year,” Lind said. “But then, after I got a little confidence and shooting the ball and making some, now things are starting to change.
“When I get in the game, you’ll hear the other team say ‘I got shooter’ or things like that. So, it’s a little harder to play against. … People are more likely to fly out at me. So then, I have to pump fake or side step or just keep moving the ball.”
The Huskies need Lind to continue being productive on the perimeter considering standouts Haley Van Dyke (1 for 20 on three-pointers) and Quay Miller (3 for 20) are mired in shooting slumps and UW ranks eighth in the Pac-12 in three-point accuracy (28.5%).
“Everyone gets so excited for a big three,” Lind said. “It can definitely shift the momentum. It’s a crazy job to have because right now that’s pretty much my only role is to shoot threes, move the ball and play defense. It’s a tough job sometimes when they’re not going in.
“It’s a tough shot and the lowest-percentage shot that you can take. When they’re not falling it’s tough. You’ve got to remember to keep shooting and have a short memory.”
— Washington freshman point guard Tameiya Sadler, who missed the past two games with an undisclosed injury, is expected to play Friday.