Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Some thoughts the day after

It's easy to understand Tiffany Hayes' giddiness after learning that she was taken by Atlanta with the 14th overall pick in Monday's WNBA draft.

There was the obvious joy of being taken by the WNBA team located the closest to her hometown of Lakeland, Florida.

Also, if you are going to fall out of the first round it's never a bad turn of events to go to a team without a first-round pick.

Then there is the chance for Hayes, who played on two national championship teams and four Final Four squads during her time at UConn, to join a team that has reached the WNBA championship series in each of the last two seasons.

Last but certainly not least, there is an opportunity for Hayes to play as a rookie. Iziane Castro Marques is an unrestricted free agent and during the winter there were rumors that she would land in Seattle. If Castro Marques goes elsewhere that could open up a potential spot for Hayes. If Hayes makes the team she would return to Connecticut when Atlanta faces the Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena on June 10 and Sep. 23.

Switching gears, I had my eyes on where Christine Flores, Tavelyn James, Emilie Johnson, Katelyn Redmon, Kayla Standish, April Sykes and Avery Warley were selected in the draft.

Why would I care about seven players with no ties to Connecticut? Well, they were the draft-eligible players who were members of the U.S. team which played in the Pan Am Games. The U.S. team was led by UConn incoming freshman Breanna Stewart. Stewart finished as the team's leading scorer (15.3) and rebounder (11.3).

When talking and writing about Stewart this is one of her achievements which impressed me the most considering the rest of the U.S. squad was made up of current college players. While it wasn't the same thing as playing on the World University Games team which included first-round picks Nneka Ogwumike, Shekinna Sticklen, Devereaux Peters, Glory Johnson and Natalie Novosel, still a high school kid being the go-to performer on a squad of college players is an incredible achievement.

So now it is worth noting that four of Stewart's Pan Am Games teammates were drafted. Standish was the first to go, being taken with the 19th overall pick by Minnesota. Sykes, Flores and Redmon were taken in the third round by Los Angeles, Phoenix and New York.

My final thought concerns Astan Dabo, the first-round pick of the Connecticut Sun. There were plenty of questions surrounding Dabo. Even Mike Thibault, who drafted Dabo, admitted he only saw her play on a limited basis the one time he saw her in person. Well Dabo is expected to be a part of Mali's team which will play in the Olympic qualifying tournament. Mali does not have an easy draw as it was played in a pool with France and Canada which just the top two teams moving onto the next stage of qualifying. If Mali can beat either France or Canada they could be one win away from earning a spot in the Olympics. The qualifying tournament will be played in Ankara, Turkey from June 25-July 1.

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