Getting drafted into the WNBA is a highlight of a woman’s basketball career. All the hard work, the pain, the sweat, the tears, the effort—it has paid off.
Now that these soon-to-be rookies are preparing to take their talents to the next level, their message to the masses will soon be “We Got Next” and “Watch Me Work.”
Kelsey Plum was selected with the top overall pick by the San Antonio Stars. Her sister was sitting next to her when her name got called and she described it as an “unreal” feeling.
I just kind of touched her and took a deep breath. It’s an unreal feeling. I’ve been dreaming about it for so long. I’m just very grateful.
— WNBPA (@TheWNBPA) April 13, 2017
After Plum was selected with the top overall pick, the Chicago Sky picked Alaina Coates as she went second to the Second City. Coates was also the first player representing the national champion South Carolina Gamecocks to be selected. She acknowledged that preparation at the W’s level is an entirely different beast from college.
I’m definitely going to have to start with my mental psyche. It’s completely different from college. I just know that whenever I hit my walls of being tired, I’m going to have to get over that wall.
Chicago Sky select Alaina Coates! #WDraft17
— Diana Taurasi's Bun (@DT3sBun) April 13, 2017
Allisha Gray, also out of South Carolina, went fourth to the Dallas Wings. Gray felt that being picked confirmed that her choosing to enter the draft this year was the right call and also mentioned how she has been preparing for what awaits her next.
Improving my ball handling. From a mental aspect, I’ve been working on my decision making because in the WNBA, you’re playing against a lot of experienced players. So, it’s definitely decision making for me.
— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) April 13, 2017
Nia Coffey, out of Northwestern, was chosen with the fifth overall pick to the San Antonio Stars—meaning she and Plum will soon be teammates. Coffey talked about how she felt the 2017 draft class has a responsibility to contribute to the WNBA’s continued growth.
We have to show young girls and people the excitement and potential of this league. It’s such an amazing thing and we want everyone to know that. For all the young girls out there, it is possible. There is a professional place for you to play. Just keep working and you can get here.
— Hannah Gebresilassie (@hannahjoyGee) April 13, 2017
The following selection was made by the Washington Mystics—who went local by picking Maryland’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough with the sixth overall pick, meaning she will soon be sharing the spotlight with Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver.
Maryland fans are the greatest fans in the country. They support you through thick and thin. I’m so excited to be just down the street from them. Coach B [Brenda Frese] has helped me prepare for this moment not only as a person but as a leader. Our player development coaches have helped me get to this moment. I just put my head down and worked ever since I stepped on campus. It’s good to see my hard work finally pay off.
— ABC 7 Sports (@ABC7Sports) April 14, 2017
Walker-Kimbrough’s fellow Terrapin, Brionna Jones, went eighth to the Connecticut Sun. Jones got the chance to already get acquainted with Chiney Ogwumike while at the draft.
I met Chiney [Ogwumike] while I was here. I’m really excited to play and run with her.
Blessed to officially be a part of the Connecticut Sun! ☀️ @ New York, New York https://t.co/pe1HEOr8Co
— Brionna Jones (@_bjones18) April 14, 2017
Two picks later, the third South Carolina Gamecock was chosen this draft as Kaela Davis went tenth to Dallas—meaning she will be on the same team as Allisha Gray. Davis credited her South Carolina head coach, Dawn Staley, for preparing her for life in the pros.
Her big thing is always playing at the next level. That’s something she’s always been preparing myself and teammates since we got to South Carolina.
— Steve Benjamin (@SteveBenjaminSC) April 14, 2017
Towards the end of the first round, the two teams that gave W aficionados one of the most memorable Finals last year concluded said round. The 11th pick was that of the defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks, and they stayed on the West Coast by drafting Sydney Wiese of Oregon State. Wiese understands the transition from college to pro can be a daunting one.
It’s competitive. This is the best women’s basketball league in the world, so there is no free lunch here. You’re going to have to earn a spot and it’s a business now. It’s going to be super competitive, very talented players all across the board. I’m so excited to improve as an individual and see what I can bring to a new team in the LA Sparks.
— Scott Rueck (@CoachRueck) April 14, 2017
The Sparks drafting Wiese was followed by the Lynx concluding the draft’s first round by picking Alexis Jones from Baylor. Jones talked about the chance to play with Minnesota’s veteran-laden team that includes Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, and Sylvia Fowles. She also mentioned what she feels she can add to the team.
I’m going to work on my defensive side and just keep doing what I’ve been doing in the gym, working on my shot, working on my picks and rolls, and working on my quickness ability and just trying to be that player for the Minnesota Lynx. Wherever they need me on the court, I’m going to help out. Hopefully, we can win another championship with them.
— Jessica Morrey (@JessicaMorrey) April 14, 2017
One of the more notable second round draftees was Stanford’s Erica McCall, who was taken with the 17th overall selection to the Indiana Fever. Stanford is a school with a definite history in terms of women’s basketball, which includes the contributions to the program from both Ogwumike sisters.
There were unbelievable experiences that I had at Stanford. Being able to play with a coach that has 1,000 wins is pretty darn cool. There are so many things I’ll take with me on and off the court as well as my teammates such as Chiney [Ogwumike] and Nneka [Ogwumike]. They gave me a lot of tips I can take to the WNBA so I’m excited.
— Tamika Catchings (@Catchin24) April 14, 2017
Be sure to check out our Instagram page (@BeyondTheW) for more of the behind the scenes sights and sounds from the 2017 WNBA Draft!