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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

UConn's Mosqueda-Lewis, Stokes both go in 1st round

During their collegiate careers Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes rarely showed any anxiety. However, waiting for their names to be called in Thursday's WNBA Draft was a completely different situation.

"I was shaking under the table," said Stokes, who went 11th overall to the New York Liberty. "My mom felt my hand and said 'why are you so sweaty.' I said 'I am not sweaty, I am clammy but I am nervous.' Once I heard my name, I got nervous again."

Mosqueda-Lewis didn't have quite as long of a wait as she was taken with the third overall pick by Seattle which also took former Notre Dame star Jewell Loyd with the No. 1 overall pick.

"I was waiting for my name to get called and to finally know where I am going," Mosqueda-Lewis said.  "I am super excited.

"I have been able to play against her (Loyd) all these years, unfortunately I haven't been able to play with her."

The Connecticut Sun took former Duke star Elizabeth Williams with the fourth overall pick.

"I figured once Kaleena went third the likelihood of me going to Connecticut was pretty high,' Williams said.

The Sun also took former DePaul star Brittany Hrynko in the second round before trading her to Atlanta for Jasmine Thomas, who started 52 games over the last two seasons for the Dream.

Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan said the team has been looking to trade for Thomas and it just recently came together. Donovan said that Thomas should be able to help in the development of last year's first-round pick Chelsea Gray, like Thomas a former Duke star.

The surprising twists and turns weren't over yet. Former UConn forward Michala Johnson, who transferred to Wisconsin after her sophomore year, was taken in the third round by New York and former Hopkins star Lauren "Lady" Okafor went to Atlanta six picks later.

Johnson, who has dealt with more than her share of knee injuries, saw her redshirt senior season end at Wisconsin with another serious knee injury. The belief was that she was going to apply for a sixth season of eligibility. The WNBA has not been notified of her intentions to return but if she receives that additional year, it will be ruled an ineligible selection. I reached out to the folks at Wisconsin and here's the response I received back.

"We are still waiting on her appeal on the sixth year - probably won't know until this summer. She is in grad school so hopes to come back. She was very surprised that she got drafted though she is still not able to play due to her most recent ACL."
Okafor, who began her collegiate career at Providence before becoming one of the nation's leading rebounders at James Madison, is part of a desire by the Dream to add some young posts to backup Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle.

The Dream coaches saw Okafor play durign the season and met Okafor in Tampa at the WNBA combine and came away impressed.

"She was somebody who brings a physical presence, a hard-working kid who has worked for everything she has accomplished in her college career," said Angela Taylor, the Dream's President and General Manager. "She will provide us with solid size at 6-4, a physical presence, a competitive nature and somebody in the post who plays with a high basketball IQ.

"We have a solid core group but when we look at our post position, we want to be able to get younger in post. We have one of the best frontcourts in the WNBA with Angel McCoughtry, Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza. We are looking for players who can complement them, can learn from those posts and develop."

Taylor had nothing but great things to say about Thomas.

"Jasmine has been the consummate professional for the Atlanta Dream," Taylor said. "She is somebody who the Connecticut Sun has sought for the last couple of months. It is a win-win for both parties. She will bring high energy for the Connecticut Sun, a great defender who can have a dynamic impact on the game on the defensive end and turn that into offense. This will be a nice solid veteran addition for the Connecticut Sun."


Anonymous Joe said...

I wonder what kind of overseas careers these players might have.

It sure looks like other countries value women's basketball a lot more than the WNBA does, at least at the top level.

11:58 AM 

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