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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hayes goes to Atlanta in second round of WNBA draft

Tiffany Hayes had to wait a little longer than expected but the former UConn star landed with the Atlanta Dream with the 14th overall pick in Monday’s WNBA draft.

Hayes was touted as a first-round prospect but slipped into the second round before Atlanta grabbed her.
Hayes, a 5-foot-10 guard who finished in the top 10 at UConn in games and minutes played, points, assists and 3-pointers, believes her time playing alongside current WNBA stars should ease the transition from college to pro ball.

This is the first time in five years that UConn didn’t have a player taken in the first round but both Hayes and UConn coach Geno Auriemma believes Atlanta could be a good fit for her.

"(Not being a first-round pick) didn't matter to me, all I needed was a shot," Hayes said. "I was  anxious all day, I was never nervous. I just  wanted to know where I was going.

"They are definitely an uptempo team and being at Connecticut that is definitely something you learn how to do is be on an uptempo team. That will definitely help me in the long run being with Atlanta now."

It didn't hurt that Hayes grew up in neighboring Florida so going to Atlanta truly was a Dream.

"That is one of the most exciting things about going to Atlanta," Hayes said. "I was definitely hoping that was where I was being picked. I really didn't think I would get to go there but it is definitely a blessing to be there and be so close to home.

"It just feels like I am going home doing the same thing for a great team and a great teammate like Angel (McCoughtry). I was very excited, I was happy and I just happy for my family because that was probably something that they wanted for me to be somewhere close."

Hayes said she is planning to reach out to her former UConn teammate Kalana Greene, who has earned a spot in league even though she unexpectedly dropped out of the first round in the 2010 WNBA draft.

"I can look to Kalana for advice because she went through the exact same situation as me, she turned it into a great thing for her," Hayes said. "I will definitely be in contact with her very soon after this."

Perhaps nobody was happier to see Hayes fall to Atlanta in the second round than Hayes' mother.

"She was always telling me even before the draft that I would love for you to play with Angel she is such a great player and she loved you when you two were in college, she always told me she loved the way you played."

Hayes was available to be selected when the Connecticut Sun were on the clock with the ninth overall pick. However, feeling that the Sun was pretty deep with wing players, the Sun passed on Hayes and took a gamble in drafting 6-8 Astan Dabo from Mali.

"Our roster is basically set unless there is an upset in camp, we work so hard the last couple of years to redo our roster, be young, do all the things to grow up and mature," Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "We all saw the progress of it last year going up to 21 wins and I think we can get more if we do the things we were supposed to. I didn't really want to undo that either. I like the idea of starting trailing camp knowing what we are doing.

"If this doesn't prove to all the people that we only draft UConn players ... Tiffany Hayes is a really good player but I don't know how she would beat out on our team."

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