It came as no surprise that Brittney Griner, who was voted as a two-time Associated Press Player of the Year at Baylor University, was selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Phoenix Mercury in Monday’s WNBA.
“It’s a dream come true, I’m like a little kid in Disney World the first time meeting all the characters,” Griner said. “Sitting at the table they said 15 seconds, and my heart started beating so fast. I was grabbing the tablecloth underneath.”
Griner completed a stellar four-year collegiate career with the Lady Bears. She finished as the second all-time leading scorer in women’s NCAA history, with 3,283 points. The 6-foot-8 sensation is the top shot-blocker of all time, which includes breaking men’s and women’s college marks with 748. Griner also holds the record for most dunks by a female with 18, which will not be broken for quite some time.
The Phoenix Mercury were able to grab Griner before Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had the opportunity to add her to his roster. Cuban told reporters several weeks ago that he would strongly consider drafting Griner, which sparked controversy from basketball fans and players.
Instead of having Dirk Nowitzki as her teammate, she will have Mercury superstar Diana Taurasi to help her improve her game. The Mercury, who will are now the considerable favorites to win the WNBA title, already have a talented squad. They were heavily impacted by injuries to the stars last season.
Taurasi only played in eight games after she strained a hip flexor, and Penny Taylor missed the entire season while recovering from an ACL injury. Candice Dupree was forced to miss 21 games after she injured her knee.
“I’m ready to get there and ready to learn from [Taurasi],” Griner said. “I got to play with her a little bit at USA Basketball. I’m ready to feed off her and give all I can to the Phoenix Mercury.”
Mercury President Amber Cox acknowledged when Phoenix goes on the road that it will generate excitement for the fans.
With the No. 2 pick, the Chicago Sky selected Elena Delle Donne. The 6-foot-5 forward can play multiple positions and was second in the nation in scoring with 26.0 points per game while averaging 8.5 rebounds. She finished her career at Delaware with 3,039 career points, which is fifth all-time in NCAA history.
“You don’t say where you want to go before it was happening, but Chicago was my pick and I wanted to go there badly,” Donne said.
The Tulsa Shock selected Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins with the third pick. The fourth choice for the Washington Mystics was Ohio State guard Tayler Hill. The New York Liberty selected Texas A&M’s Kelsey Bone to round out the top five.
“There’s no question that this draft class has potential to be a moment in time and we’ll look back 10, 20 years and remember that class that came in with Brittney, Skylar and Elena,” WNBA president Laurel Richie said. “Having spent the last two days with a couple of the other prospects, there are a couple surprises in there too.”