- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Maryland Terrapins fans who were sad to see Shakira Austin transfer out of the program two years ago will now be able to cheer for her as a professional.

Austin, a standout at Ole Miss for the past two seasons, was drafted No. 3 overall by the Washington Mystics on Monday night. The Fredericksburg, Virginia, native and shot-blocking machine spent the first two years of her college career at Maryland. 

Austin going No. 3 to the Mystics was expected, as the Dream selected Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard No. 1 overall and the Fever picked Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith second.

The 6-foot-5 center will be a welcome addition for the Mystics down low, both on offense and defense. Austin averaged 15.2 points and nine rebounds per game for Ole Miss last season. 

Before college, Austin spent three years at two different Virginia schools before transferring to Riverdale Baptist School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, where she was a McDonald’s All-American. She was one of the highest-rated players in the nation after she graduated, signing with Brenda Frese’s Terrapins and making an instant impact.

She tallied a program record 89 blocks in 2018-19 to make the Big Ten’s all-freshman team and then averaged 12 points per contest as a sophomore to be voted second-team all-conference.

Before Austin arrived at Ole Miss, the program was in shambles, coming off a 7-23 season with zero wins in SEC play. In her first season, the Rebels went above .500 for the first time in five years and were the runner-ups in the WNIT Tournament. Last season, Austin led Ole Miss to a 23-8 record and its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2007.

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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