- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2011

The Mystics‘ frontcourt got a makeover Monday, as Washington drafted one young post player and acquired another in a trade later in the day.

Hours after coach and general manager Trudi Lacey tabbed Kentucky forward Victoria Dunlap with the 11th pick in the WNBA draft, the Mystics acquired the eighth overall pick, Xavier’s Ta’Shia Phillips, in a multiplayer deal with Atlanta.

Phillips, a 6-foot-6 center, comes to Washington along with veteran guard Kelly Miller and the Dream’s 2012 first-round pick in exchange for guard Lindsey Harding and the Mystics‘ 2012 second-round pick.

Before the deal was made, Lacey said she was pleased to see Dunlap available when the Mystics made the second-to-last pick in the first round.

“All season long I have followed Victoria and I’ve liked her,” Lacey said. “She’s been very high on my board. She’s a great athlete; she’s agile, has versatility, has a huge heart, is a great defender and loves to rebound [-] all the things I like in a player, so we’re excited.”

Lacey was not the only person at Verizon Center excited about Dunlap’s selection; Wizards point guard John Wall was as well.

“I’m happy for her,” Wall said. “She’s a Kentucky friend I still talk to to this day. I tweeted about it and told her congratulations.

“She played undersized at her position in college, but she’s athletic, can rebound and block shots. She’s always going to play hard for you. I think she’ll do good; she’ll help the Mystics as much as possible.

His advice to the 6-foot-1 Dunlap was to just work hard.

“I know she’s going to do that [work hard] but she’s got to get prepared to travel a lot and stay overnight and playing so many more games than in college. That will probably be the toughest thing.

Dunlap was a third-team All-America selection by the Associated Press and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Dunlap said she is preparing for her job in the WNBA by “doing a lot of ballhandling and working on my 3-point shot.”

Lacey plans to make defense and transition scoring a priority for the Mystics this season, and Phillips should help on that front, as well. She was named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year and averaged a double-double (16.1 points, 12.4 rebounds) as a senior.

“We were extremely excited to be able to move up in the draft and have the opportunity to bring Ta´Shia Phillips to Washington,” Lacey said in a statement. “At 6-6, she is one of the best rebounders in the game today while her agility and ability to score in the paint will help us out tremendously and give us an additional post player along with Crystal Langhorne, Nicky Anosike and Chasity Melvin.”

The Mystics wrapped up the three-round draft by taking Duke guard/forward Karima Christmas in the second round (23rd overall) and 6-4 center Sarah Krnjic of Serbia in the third (35th overall).