Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

From Belgium to DC: Washington Mystics’ Budding Superstar Emma Meesseman

The Washington Mystics’ Emma Meesseman is an extremely busy person. The 6’4” center from Belgium had just ended her EuroLeague Women season with BC UMMC Ekaterinburg before heading to DC for the start of the Mystics campaign in late May. But before getting comfortable, she prepared to head back home to participate in the FIBA world championship qualifiers with her national team. Prior to her venture to Europe last month, we had a chance to speak with the budding superstar about her newest teammate, players she looks up to and flying in airplanes.

On Tap: When did you start playing basketball, and what attracted you to it?
Emma Meesseman: I started playing when I was five years old. At that time, I just loved playing all kinds of sports with a ball. I did like basketball a lot though, because my mother used to play and achieved a lot of things in Belgium. I wanted to do the same thing and be better.

OT: What are your personal expectations for this season? 
EM: I just want to get better at every aspect of the game. Overseas, I have been working a lot on shooting the ball quicker. It’s more technical, so I’ve got to keep bringing that to the court.

OT: Some people have mentioned you as an MVP candidate. Is that a goal of yours?
EM: My ultimate goal is to get that ring with this team. I will try to do my best and give everything in order to do so, but individual titles have never been a goal for me.

OT: I know you haven’t played much with Elena Delle Donne yet, but what has that experience been like so far?
EM: It has been great. She’s a great player and person, and it is so fun to even think about all the possibilities that we have with her. We’re still getting to know each other better, but I am sure we’ll have a fun season.

OT: Is this the most talented team you’ve ever played on? What do you expect from the Mystics?
EM: It pretty much is. It is definitely the one that gives me the best feeling and makes me really believe that we can achieve something big. I don’t want to think too far [ahead] already. I am more of a person that takes everything step by step, game by game. We just have to win as many [games] as possible in order to get to the playoffs.

OT: What players do you look to for inspiration and improvements on your game?
EM: I don’t watch specific players for certain moves. But I can watch any basketball game and see moves and think to add them. I do like the style of Larry Bird a lot. I find myself more and more looking up clips of him.

OT: A lot of European players adopt NBA teams growing up. Did you adopt a team, and if so, do you still root for them? 
EM: Growing up, I never watched a single NBA game. I watched some highlights of different games, but I never rooted for a team. Since playing in the WNBA, I’ve gotten to watch games on TV, so if there is one team that I look up to, it’s the San Antonio Spurs. The way that they play together is like magic. To me, that is perfect basketball.

OT: It must be tough to balance playing on pro and national teams. Do you ever get tired of traveling around the world so much? What do you do on all those plane rides?
EM: This year is the first year I combined the national team with the WNBA. I’ll have to wait and see how that goes, but on both teams, there is a great staff that helps me the best they can. It is kind of hard to be away from home year-round, to keep playing basketball nonstop. But as long as I take care of my body and keep loving basketball, I fully enjoy it. I do have to admit that traveling used to be way more exciting than it is now. Being on a plane is boring now, and I hope every single time that I’ll be able to sleep to pass the time.

OT: Is it hard to watch the Mystics when you’re away for prolonged amounts of time?
EM: I have not been in that situation just yet, but can for sure imagine it will be hard to see them play while I am overseas. But I would feel the same if I was not able to play with my national team.

OT: What’s your favorite part of playing in DC?
EM: The city is amazing to me. It is the place that feels closest to home for me. Also, the fact that when I came here, Coach T [Mike Thibault] was completely rebuilding the team; I was kind of here from the start. It’s so cool to see the progression we have made, and to play with teammates that are friends.

For more information on the Washington Mystics’ 2017 season, visit mystics.wnba.com.