Jewell Loyd describes herself as different. “That’s something that I embrace,” she says.
It’s not just that Jewell Loyd led her college team, the Fighting Irish, to three consecutive Final Four appearances; two consecutive National Championship games; and an overall record of 103-5, earning back-to-back conference Player of the Year awards. Or that Jewell Loyd was selected #1 by the Seattle Storm in the 2015 WNBA Draft, after opting to forgo her Senior season at Notre Dame. And thereafter, secured 2015 WNBA Rookie of the Year, plus was Seattle’s second leading scorer.
It’s also that Jewell is the most versatile, explosive, threat from everywhere on the floor – with years of career ahead of her. She’s found the most unique parts of her game – her pump fake, her jab step, her catch and shoot – and maximized them, despite not playing at her natural point guard position.
“You watch her for two seconds and you know that she’s a special player,” said Sue Bird.
Playing at shooting guard, in 2020, she was the second leading scorer on a Seattle Storm team that went undefeated in the playoffs – only the second team in WNBA history to do so by the way. Where astoundingly, she found another level to her game to ensure her team took home the win, going from averaging 15.5 points per game in the regular season, to 18.0 points on 47.1/39.3/93.3 splits in the playoffs.
As a result, today the “Gold Mamba” as dubbed by Jewell’s mentor, Kobe Bryant, has already earned herself a WNBA Championship title twice. She’s a two time WNBA All-Star, 2016 All-WNBA Second Team, and two time Senior USA Basketball Gold Medalist. And she’s been signed to Nike as the female face for Kobe’s signature line.
So today, we’re going to take a look at Jewell Loyd’s basketball evolution. We’ll learn more about her college career and how it informed her time on the court later with Sue Bird. We’ll check out some of her best highlight videos and stats. And reveal her strengths and opportunities. Plus, we’ll show the growth behind two titles, two All-Star Game appearances, an All-WNBA team recognition and more. So let’s get after it!
At the young age of 10, Jewell was already set on being an athlete. The catch? She wanted to be the next Venus or Serena Williams, and to claim a Wimbledon title. So at a local camp in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, she worked with her father, Calvin, on her forehand.
But while tennis introduced her to sports, she eventually found in lonesome. And luckily for us, moved onto team sports, including baseball, tackle football—a favorite of hers at recess—and basketball.
Perhaps inspired by her older brother, Jarryd, who now plays professional basketball overseas after standout college career at Valparaiso University from 2004-08, Jewell quickly became a four-year starter for head coach Tony Konsewicz at Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois.
Prior to her arrival, the school had not won sectional title since 1981, conference title since 1985, nor regional crown since 1998. But during her prep career, Niles West won three regional championships, two conference titles, and one sectional crown. Talk about making an impact on a program!
Jewell quickly proved herself to be a full-package guard with incredible speed. In her high school career, she played point guard and wing. And averaged 24.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.2 steals per game. Plus, she scored 3,077 career points (only the third Illinois prep payer since 1993 to do so), leading her team to a 93–31 record.
As a freshman, from the jump, she was a quality perimeter shooter and a strong playmaker, averaging 19.0 points per game. As a sophomore, she led the team to 27-6 record and trip to Class 4A Elite Eight, and averaged 22.8 points per game.
In the following years, her ability to shoot from long range, and create and finish in traffic continued to be unmatched. This was mostly because she added a strength to speed and quickness that others just could not keep up with.
As a junior, she was able to put up high numbers, because she was already athletic enough to get out in transition and finish in traffic. And skilled enough to create a high volume of shots in the half court for herself and others. She led Niles West to another 22-9 record and a spot in 4A sectional final. And had five 40-point (or more) games.
As a senior, Jewell again captainted her team to 22-9 record and Illinois Class 4A regional title. And she did it with 22 double-doubles, while shooting 50-percent from the field and 39-percent from the three-point line. “She has such a quick step back,” coach Tony said. “Defenders often sag on her as she drives to the basket and then she’ll stop on a dime and hit a jumper. And she has incredible shooting range.”
Meanwhile, Jewell was a standout on the AAU circuit as well, playing for Midwest Elite (formerly Full Package) under coach Ralph Gesualdo. She helped her AAU team to a 189-10 record in her career, with per-game statistical averages of 24.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 4.3 steals and 3.0 blocks. She led Midwest Elite to four titles during the summer 2010 AAU season. Plus, her team also finished as the runner-up at a Nike Summer Showcase in Chicago.
So it’s no surprise that Jewell started receiving letters from colleges in eighth grade. And received scholarship offers from just about every major program in the country. Though it was Jewell’s versatility, along with her dedication to get better — Tony Konsewicz called her a “gym rat – a true basketball junkie” — that drew the attention of Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.
“Jewell is just a phenomenal talent,” coach Muffet McGraw said in a statement after Jewell signed her National Letter of Intent in November. “The thing I like about Jewell is she continues to get better. … Her 3-point shot looks great, and she can put it on the floor and can get to the rim. She can also really get off the floor and she’s a great defender, so she can help us at both ends of the floor.”
Jewell led the Fighting Irish to three consecutive Final Four appearances, two consecutive National Championship games, and an overall record of 108-6. And she won two ACC Tournament MVPs.
Areas she was initially lacking in turned into strengths over the stretch of her three-year college career. There was a time when she was mainly a drive and post threat. Then, she hit the gym to work on 3-pointers. She ended her time at Notre Dame with a healthy 36.7 percent career shooting clip from behind the arc.
In her final season for Notre Dame, she was named ESPN’s women’s college basketball player of the year. And the Fighting Irish advanced to the NCAA championship game for the second year in a row. Jewell scored 1,909 points in her college career, Notre Dame’s fifth-highest total ever.
Though, for every bit that things were going exceptionally well for her on the court, off the court was a struggle. “I obviously joke around about it now, but I had basically the three worst things you could have going to Notre Dame: I was a black student-athlete, I had a learning disability, and I was never in class.” Jewell has since explained. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Jewell found a way to persevere – her own way.
Jewell made the unique decision to leave Notre Dame a year early and declare for the 2015 WNBA Draft. Which, at the time, surprised Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw. “I don’t know of anyone that thought it was a good idea. Yet she wanted to go on with it,” Muffet told WSBT.
Jewell’s goals for the WNBA were simple in theory, but hard to execute: “I always wanted to win a WNBA championship, and I always wanted to win a gold medal.”
Unfortunately things got off to a rocky start in the league for Jewell. She struggled early, and asked to be taken out of the starting lineup during her rookie year. Starting the game on the bench gave her an opportunity to see the game in a different way, she said. She could hear what her coaches were saying, watch who was getting tired on the other team and assess who to attack.
Midway through the season, Jewell regained her starting spot and scored in double figures in 11 of her final 15 games, averaging 10.7 points and leading all rookies. “Just getting more aggressive and having more confidence in myself,” Jewell said of her renewed success. “When you have great teammates who make it easier, find you in the open lanes, and tell you to keep shooting, it makes it a lot easier to make things happen.”
Jewell finished the season with 23 starts and time in 34 games, earning her the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award.
“The biggest thing coming into the league is trying to find out who you are and what you can do,” explained Jewell. “When you’re an elite player, college is pretty easy. In the league, in general, people’s job is to make your life miserable. They try to make it as difficult as possible, and that’s just how it is. It’s a paycheck that you’re fighting for, and your job.”
“She continued to get better throughout the season,” Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek said. “There were a lot of factors for that. Jewell is obviously a very special talent, but I think one of the things that makes her very exciting, in terms of her future, is her humility and her hunger.”
In her second season, Jewell developed even further into an efficient and effective scorer. She became the starting shooting guard for the Storm, averaging 16.5 points per game and was also named to the All-WNBA Second Team.
Things were beginning to click for her team, too. The Storm made it back to the playoffs for the first time in three years. And in her first career playoff game, Jewell scored 24 points in a 94–85 loss to the Atlanta Dream in the first round elimination game.
“I grew up a little bit (after that first season),” Jewell said. “I learned the game a little bit better. I got more confident in the system here in Seattle. The coaches and everyone else went out of their way to help me.”
Because the development process was constantly evolving, Jewell leaned on veterans Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson (now retired) for direction. “Understanding the mentality is important,” Jewell said. “The WNBA is the toughest competition in the world. Every game is tough. It doesn’t matter where you are. It’s a grind.
Her following year, in the 2017 season, Jewell’s offensive scoring numbers increased yet again. She was now averaging a career-high 17.7 points per game. And she scored a new career-high of 33 points in a 75–71 loss to Phoenix. As for the Storm, they finished the season as the number 8 seed in the league with a 15–19 record, and suffered a disappointing defeat in the first round elimination game at the hands of Phoenix.
By 2018, Jewell was voted into the WNBA All-Star Game. But the best part of her season was undoubtedly (spoiler alert!) winning a WNBA Championship. She finished the season averaging 15.5 points per game. As the Storm finished 26–8 with the number 1 seed in the league. In the semi-finals, the Storm defeated Phoenix, advancing to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2010, where they defeated the Washington Mystics in a three-game sweep.
But in the playoffs, on the biggest stage of her professional career to date, Jewell found herself in a shooting slump. As a result, she personally struggled with self-doubt while enjoying Seattle’s run to a 2018 WNBA championship.
“I never got comfortable. I think I played two good games the entire playoffs. … You try not to be nervous and you try to be solid when you get there, but then you realize what’s at stake, and different emotions take over. That’s the first time I’ve ever felt that way.” Jewell reflected.
Jewell Loyd knew she had to make some changes. And started working with a life coach and a sports psychologist. She learned to visualize herself in familiar situations, to know that a jumper taken in the finals is no different from the one she had taken a million times in the solitude of a gym.
“The physical stuff is easy,” Jewell said. “You can always just push through, but mentally, sometimes, it’s hard to get out of your own way.”
Jewell’s stand out 2018 year continued, as she helped lead the USA to the 2018 FIBA World Cup gold medal and a perfect 6-0 slate in France. She brought inspiring tempo coming off the bench, driving team USA away from the better teams in the tournament. She also shot a strong percentage from 3-point range (35.3 percent says ESPN). But most important was the timeliness of each of her makes, as she had an answer for every run, keeping momentum on the USA’s side.
Jewell wasted no time getting back at it during the next WNBA season. But while she began with 11 straight double-digit scoring games, she soon suffered a right-ankle sprain and bone bruise that forced her to miss seven games. And while the healing went mostly according to plan, the comeback was rocky. She started in just two of the first six games since her return on July 19.
However, she made her second all-star appearance that year. And by the end of the season, the Seattle Storm were the number 6 seed with an 18–16 record. But were eliminated in the second round elimination game by the Sparks.
In her sixth season, Jewell played some of her best basketball and won her second WNBA title – and this time, she was able to put her mark on it. In short, 2020 was Jewell’s time to shine, after putting in the work both physically and mentally.
She was a critical player for her team throughout the three WNBA Finals games, contributing 91 minutes and making 24-of-45 shots. She rose to the moment and put on a show on the big stage, scoring 55 points along with 16 rebounds, 12 assists, 6 steals and 1 block.
In Game 1, Jewell proved herself to be efficient, having developed the mental fortitude to remain consistent under pressure. She drained 8 of 9 shots, including 4 of 5 three-pointers for 25 points. In Game 2, she led Seattle with 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting while canning 4 of 6 three-pointers.
“I’m just trying to stay present, efficient and poised,” Jewell said during a Zoom call. “I’m taking what the defense gives me. My teammates are running great stuff, setting great screens. And I’m just trying not to do too much. With this team, you don’t have to overthink, overpass or over dribble. The ball will find you if you’re moving. I’ve just got to do the early work and be able to shoot.”
Entering Game 3, she debuted the player exclusive, all-gold Nike Kobe 5s. She scored 19 points and recorded nine rebounds in Seattle’s 92–59 series-clinching victory. As green-and-yellow confetti rained down to the floor of the near-empty Court I in Bradenton, Fla.’s IMG Academy, Jewell thought almost immediately of Kobe Bryant and his late daughter, Gianna.
“This is what [me and Kobe] talked about, how to get this feeling,” Jewell said. “How to get this feeling over and over again.”
Jewell had achieved her goal. “That’s the one time during the season where you can actually take a breath, is knowing that it’s done,” Jewell Loyd told The New York Times. “It’s over. We did it. It’s such a great feeling.”
“With Stewie (Breanna Stewart) and Jewell, their talent is really insane,” Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird said. “I mean, when you think about it, the things they can do on the basketball court, they are the next generation…They are the now generation, but they are also the next generation for the next five, ten, fifteen, who knows how many years.”
Jewell has played overseas every year of her WNBA career, for a variety of teams. After Jewell’s rookie WNBA season, she played for Galatasaray in Turkey, averaging 14.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 2.3 apg in 17 games.
In 2016, she signed with the Shanxi Flame of the Chinese League. She signed with Guri KDB Life Winnus of the Korean League the following year. And in August 2018, she signed with Botaş SK of the Turkish League. Then played for Perfumerías Avenida of the Spanish League. She’s always developing her game any way she can.
Jewell Loyd’s game is one to study. She’s athletic and fluid with the basketball, and dangerous on the defensive end. Here are a few of her best highlights.
Jewell Loyd scored a career-high of 35 points on August 20, 2020, as the Seattle Storm took on the Indiana Fever. Jewell fakes the defender one way and drives by the other; hits the step-back three; and gets herself open for a foul-line two. That’s right, she’s a threat from every spot on the floor.
During her second year in the WNBA, you can already see signs of the player Jewell is today. Jewell finishes through contact, and hits underhand layups from the left. And multiple times throws the defense off with two to three dribbles and knocks down twos, using some of Kobe’s signature moves.
Jewell’s 19.8 points per game not only finished second in the ACC, but also ranked 27st in the nation. Here’s a look at some of the best plays from her Notre Dame career. The reverse layup, the hang-time: Jewell is not only exceptional, she’s fun to watch because of her dynamism.
Jewell’s stat sheet reveals what the plain eye can see: she’s a super scoring star. Jewell’s Player Estimated Impact is incredibly high at 12.2. Because the formula accounts for a player’s influence relative to each specific game, it helps eliminate statistical biases created by league, style of play, or even era. And she has a career effective field goal percentage of 47.8%, which places her in the 66th percentile of league players — really good.
Jewell has already spent two seasons in the top ten for points per game. She’s racked up four seasons in the top ten for free throws, three seasons in the top ten for three-pointers, and two seasons in the top ten for field goals. All the while being incredibly clutch to her team – spending three seasons in the top ten for minutes played.
Here are some of the most common ways Jewell gets her buckets.
Jewell is always one of the first down the court in transition. Sue Bird and Jordin Canada always find her. And Jewell is able to handle the pressure of the finish and deliver beautifully. Easy money!
Jewell reads she can splice the defense, and drives to the basket. On her way, she brings the ball over-head to keep it secure. She finishes with layups a lot, because she’s so fast and is able to play through the contact. Plus, she can finish on the left or the right with ease.
When her defender goes under a screen, she’s always going to fire. And she’s quite efficient from the three.
Jewell can hit this all day – and she does. She creates the angle with her drive, steps back, and knocks it down. She’s a little further back than normal on this one. But look for her to consistently knock down shots around the foul area – both to her right and to her left.
Jewell makes the crossover look effortless. She dribbles through the legs to attack the top foot, hits the crossover to create space, and shoots. You’ll also see her stepback off this combo sometimes.
Because of her speed Jewell can often get the defender on her back, and finish – even over much taller players – on the reverse.
Jewell Loyd has a number of strengths. Her smart play and exceptional athleticism make her a force with the ball in her hands. “When she gets going, we know we’re going to have a great night,” said Jordin Canada. “Jewell is an amazing player, and to see her play loose and effortlessly and everything just comes to her, that’s when she’s at her best.”
She’s a passionate competitor, always putting in work. “I had to kick her out of the gym because … she’s such a gym rat, always wanting to work and always wanting to learn and always wanting feedback,” Jenny Boucek said. “[Those] are attributes of the elite. Players who have these combination of humility and hunger, it really is a sign of greatness.”
During workouts, assistant coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Handy, notes Jewell’s strong eye contact and how in real time she looks to figure out how different moves fit into her game. “That reminds me of Kobe,” he adds. Sue Bird also notes that like Kobe, Jewell is a “sponge,” always looking to soak up information. “
Jewell is an energy player: she instantly increases the pace of play when she’s on the court. She makes things happen and is the first player to help push a teammate with a verbal boost.
Jewell has the ball handling skills to play the point but is just as comfortable as an off-guard. Today, she’s athletic and fluid with the basketball. And creatively skilled with a scorer’s mentality.
Jewell is dangerous at the defensive end, with long arms and strong court awareness, too. She’s able to get steals that can change a game’s momentum.
She’s a smooth-shooting wing player: someone who can attack the rim or make the defense pay from long distance. She’s mastered the Euro step, has the ability to shoot from anywhere, and can create off the dribble.
Jewell knows it’s all about how much she can push herself. Her brother reports that she can still improve her playmaking, shooting percentage and getting to the rim. On a scale of 10? “I think really she’s still at a five to be honest,” Jarryd told The New York Times. “I think she has another five gears to go in her growth as a player.”
Consistency issues have plagued much of her professional career, but is an area where recently she’s shown drastic improvement – after putting in the work. That work can never really stop though. “She’s really in a zone right now,” Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg said in 2020. “This year she was pretty consistent. I can only think of a couple of games where she’s struggled. She’s really stepping up in the playoffs.”
Previously, Jewell sought to improve the mental component of her game, so she spoke with Phil Handy about strategies to improve her mentality. And also consulted with George Mumford, a mindfulness and performance specialist who previously worked with Kobe Bryant, among other experts. Today, it’s still a work in progress.
Jewell has the opportunity to set the tone on defense, bringing the Scottie Pippen-type approach into the women’s game. Rather than letting the offensive player on a fast break dictate the speed and the play, Jewell can instead jab at her or slide one way to make her think she has the straight line penetration. Jewell can improve her defensive game by mentally tricking the offense and keeping them off balance with a few quick fakes.
There are times where Jewell could make easier plays. For example, reading that her defender is blocked by a screen as she’s cutting through the paint, and taking advantage of buckets closer to the basket. Jewell has the opportunity to keep developing her understanding of how to to read down screens and hide behind screens.
She could also find more opportunities by refining her technique – using her shoulders to slip through cracks. When she creates that space, her finishing around the basket will come even easier. “I’m always trying to work on shooting; work on range. Finishing around the basket is something I’m trying to improve. I’m understanding the game better; watching a lot of film. I’m trying to be smarter on the court with my decision-making.” Jewell said.
What’s next for Jewell Loyd is inspiring the next generation. And it’s already begun.
Jewell Loyd has always had dyslexia. As she’s grown up, she’s embraced it and is now an advocate for others on the topic. Already in March of 2016, she was featured on a 32-story Times Square billboard as the face of Eye to Eye’s “ShareAbility” campaign, which encouraged others to share their stories about learning disabilities. Her mother reported that Jewell has also given out her phone number to children with disabilities.
“You have to understand you have to love yourself,” Jewell says. “And as a leader you always have to express that to people. That’s not just about the medals and the MVPs and the trophies. It’s what you can pass down, the knowledge. And so if I could do that and if I could make someone smile, if I could change someone’s view, if I could help them reach their goal, that’s what I’m supposed to do. Because I had people who did that for me.”
Today, Jewell is also focusing on learning more about the business world and taking part in service-oriented work with her Loyd Foundation, which has helped communities in the Chicago area, where she grew up, and also in Rwanda, teaching people key entrepreneurial skills.
Jewell chose to skip playing overseas this offseason, so she could relax at home after the bubble. That free time gives her the opportunity to finish college, and she’s now enrolled at DePaul University, and is a student manager and practice player for the DePaul women’s basketball team.
She continues to inspire the next generation in many ways, and released the GOLD MAMBA WORKOUT, featuring 24 drills inspired by Kobe Bryant, on the 94FEETOFGAMEAPP, as part of her continues effort to do so.
“The app allows people who really don’t have resources or don’t have a personal trainer to get professional training and advice — the real stuff and not just stuff from some people who don’t know anything about the league,” Jewell said. “They’re getting real access to Phil — who’s been in the league and has trained everyone from Kobe to Kawhi [Leonard] to Kyrie [Irving] — and real information, which is hard to get sometimes, especially for females. So allowing them to have that all in one place in an app is pretty amazing.”
Beyond that, Jewell, her brother, and Kyrie Irving are hoping to purchase The Warehouse gym in Northbrook, Ill, envisioning the space as a renewed incubator for future generations of ballers in the know. She hopes to infuse technology into the gym by using data to guide shot selection and adding interactive gaming to make learning basketball’s intricacies more fun.
“It’s a safe space,” Jewell Loyd said. “It’s really for the community. I want to make sure that people have a chance to do what I’m doing, and it starts with a dream. And if you can build that dream in a place that you get constantly reminded that you can achieve it, I think that’s the beautiful thing about the building.”
It’s clear Jewell Loyd’s going to continue creating and living her dream, and we can’t wait to see it.
Up next, read about one of Jewell’s dynamic teammates, Breanna Stewart.
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Jewell Loyd went to Notre Dame for college.
Kobe met Jewell Loyd, because after going to a Lakers game in high school, she DM-ed him on Twitter. And he wrote back. He officially met her when she went to the Wooden Awards in LA, according to ABC News.
No Jewell Loyd is not married.