UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) - The 2015 WNBA draft was a historic night as underclassmen were taken with the top two picks.
Jewell Loyd of Notre Dame and Amanda Zahui B. of Minnesota went No. 1 and No. 2.
Zahui B., who is a red-shirt sophomore at Minnesota, said she doesn’t know if this will be a trend with underclassmen turning pro. The league has strict rules about entering the draft. Both players were eligible because they will turn 22 this year.
“I’m not really sure, both me and Jewell are very unique players,” Zahui B. said. “Whoever wants to do it, be sure about it. Make sure you’re happy. This feeling is amazing.”
Loyd was the first Notre Dame player to be taken No. 1. The All-American jokingly said she’d remind her former teammate Skylar Diggins of the honor. Diggins was taken third by Tulsa two years ago.
“It’s the first time I’ve beaten Skylar in anything,” Loyd said laughing.
Here are some other takeaways from the draft:
TRADER BILL: For the second straight season, the New York Liberty made a trade on draft night. A year after acquiring Tina Charles, New York jumped into the first round to get Brittany Boyd and Kiah Stokes. The Liberty moved Alex Montgomery and Anna Cruz.
“We were surprised Boyd was still available,” said Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer. “She was an obvious choice; she enhances our ability to attack the basket. She can really fill up a stats sheet. Our objective in moving up in the draft was specifically to acquire Kiah Stokes. Her athleticism, length, and basketball IQ are the collective characteristics of where the New York Liberty are heading. We are thrilled with both picks.”
FIRST TIME FLYERS: Dayton’s Ally Malott and Andrea Hoover became the first Flyers to be drafted to the WNBA. Malott went eighth to the Washington Mystics while Hoover was taken in the third round by the Los Angeles Sparks.
“In my mind, she is the best definition of the modern “stretch four” in this draft,” Washington coach and general manager Mike Thibault said of Malott. “She is one of the best shooters in the draft at any position. She helps space the floor, can play around the basket and is a very good outlet passer to start the break.”
Dayton wasn’t the only school to have first-time selections. Dearica Hamby was the first Wake Forest player ever drafted when she went sixth to San Antonio. Crystal Bradford was the first Central Michigan player to get taken when Los Angeles drafted her seventh.
GO WEST!: UConn senior Kaleena Mosqeuda-Lewis is headed back to the West Coast. The California native was taken third by the Seattle.
“It’s great going back to the West Coast,” said Mosqueda-Lewis. “It definitely will be easier for my family to see me play.”
Mosqueda-Lewis helped UConn win three national championships.
SECOND CHANCES: Former Middle Tennessee State player Cheyenne Parker was taken fifth by the Chicago Sky. Parker was dismissed from the Blue Raiders team in late February for a failed drug test for marijuana.
WELCOME BACK: For the second straight year, the draft was held at the Mohegan Sun. A spirited crowd, which included many of the UConn women’s basketball players, cheered on the picks. Training camps open May 17, and the WNBA’s 19th season tips off on June 5.
WOULD YOU LIKE A SEAT?: Defending champion Phoenix closed out the first round, taking Isabelle Harrison of Tennessee. The senior forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in February. She had surgery in early March and was still on crutches. She politely refused a dozen offers to sit in a chair for her interviews.
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