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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, April 13, 2018

WNBA comes calling for UConn stars yet again

Another WNBA Draft and three more No. 1 picks coming out of UConn. Consider it business as usual.

Beginning with the 2001 draft when Svetlana Abrosimova and Kelly Schumacher were both first-round picks, a record 23 No. 1 picks have come out of UConn's program.

When Gabby Williams was selected by Chicago with the fourth overall pick, she became the 12th former Husky to be a top five pick. Azura' Stevens and Kia Nurse were taken with picks No. 6 and 10 by Dallas and New York respectively giving UConn 17 top 10 selections.

"It speaks volumes of the UConn program as a whole what Geno, Chris and company have created and sustained and that is what is so impressive, the sustained success is unmatched and unparalleled in our game," Connecticut Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller said. "It also underratedly speaks to their player development. They get great players but they also develop great players and players we are all anxious to get our hands on at the pro level."

Those numbers figure to grow next year when Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson figure to be among the top prospects in what will be a star-studded draft class.

What's interesting about last night is that the three teams which drafted UConn players already had former Huskies on their roster meaning that Indiana, Los Angeles and Washington remain the only teams currently without a UConn product on its roster.

Atlanta: Tiffany Hayes, Renee Montgomery
Chicago: Stefanie Dolson, Gabby Williams
Connecticut: Morgan Tuck
Dallas: Natalie Butler (also drafted last night), Saniya Chong, Azura' Stevens
Las Vegas: Moriah Jefferson
Minnesota: Maya Moore
New York: Tina Charles, Kelly Faris, Bria Hartley, Kia Nurse, Kiah Stokes
Phoenix: Diana Taurasi
Seattle: Sue Bird, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Breanna Stewart

Williams is set to be the first of the rookies out of UConn to make her professional debut when Chicago hosts Atlanta on May 6. The next day Butler, Nurse and Stevens could make their WNBA debuts at Mohegan Sun Arena as part of a four-game, two-day preseason tournament.

While the departures of Nurse, Stevens and Williams leaves some huge holes to fill, perhaps some help could be on the way.

As I wrote yesterday, Anriel Howard who is one of the nation's top rebounders is set to visit UConn this weekend. She won't be alone as her Texas A&M teammate Danni Williams is also expected to be on the visit.

Both players are set to graduate from Texas A&M in three years (which is a truly remarkable feat) and would be immediately eligible as graduate transfers.

Williams, a 5-foot-10 guard from Clovis, New Mexico averaged 14.2 points with a team-leading 71 3-pointers. She was second on the team with 85 assists.

Howard, a 5-foot-11 forward from Atlanta, was among the national leaders in rebounds per game (12.2), double-doubles (20) and offensive rebounds (166) to go with a 12.1 scoring average (on just 9.6 field-goal attempts per game). She also had 70 assists, 12 3-pointers, 37 steals and 14 blocked shots.

This will be the second visit for Howard and according to her mother, the plan is to take all five visits allowed by the NCAA so there's no timetable for a decision. It goes without saying that an already strong UConn team would be even more dynamic if the Huskies land the two graduate transfers.


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