When Stefanie Dolson was picked by the Washington Mystics at No. 6 and Bria Hartley was picked at No. 7 by the Seattle Storm at the WNBA Draft Monday night, it ran UConn’s overall total to 15 first-round picks. That is the most in league history among college players.
Tennessee has had 13 college players drafted in the first round. Dena Head and Daedra Charles were picked in the first round of the Elite Draft in 1997. Stanford has 11 first-round picks. Duke has nine.
UConn has also had a league-high four players drafted No. 1 overall: Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (2004), Tina Charles (2010) and Maya Moore (2011). No other school has had more than two.
Here is UConn coach Geno Auriemma on the program’s success in the WNBA Draft …
“I know a big goal of the kids coming out of high school these days is `I want to go play in the WNBA,’’’ Auriemma said. “And the more players that we have drafted in the first round the more around the country players see that and they want to come to Connecticut because they feel like they get a great opportunity to be a first round draft pick. If I hear a kid say … `What’s your No. 1 goal going to college?’ `I want to be a first round draft pick.’ We’re probably not going to recruit that kid. But if you play great and win a national championship and you’re an All-American you’re probably going to be a first round draft pick. So all those things go together.’’
ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo expressed her thoughts regarding Dolson and Hartley playing together with the Mystics …
“I think it’s great for Mike Thibault,’’ Lobo said. `When I talked to him coming into this he said, `I love Stefanie Dolson. I love Bria Hartley. But it’s our probably not our biggest need at 6.’ And he found a way to get both of them. I think they’re going to be really successful there. Because of the team Mike has there and the way he can coach, I think they’ll do very well there.
“What Stefanie adds is that she makes everybody else better. Immediately, Kara Lawson and Ivory Latta are better because Stefanie is going to get them open, whether by great screens or passing them the ball. And Bria gives them what Bria does. All she has to do are the things she does well already. Stefanie is the one player in the draft that if you’re a veteran on a team, especially a scorer, you’re thrilled because she’s going to make life easier for you.’’