Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck, who this year became the first NCAA basketball players – male or female – to win four consecutive Division I championships, highlight the list of 12 prospects scheduled to attend WNBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm on Thursday, April 14 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
ESPN2 will provide coverage and analysis of the first round beginning at 7 p.m. ET, and ESPNU will air coverage of the second and third rounds starting at 8 p.m. ET. In addition, the draft will be available through WatchESPN, which is accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider. WNBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm comes one month before tip-off of the WNBA’s historic 20th season, which opens onSaturday, May 14.
The Seattle Storm holds the top pick in the draft for the second consecutive year and the fourth time in franchise history after winning the WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm last Sept. 24. The San Antonio Stars will select second, followed by two selections for the Connecticut Sun, which has its own pick at No. 3 and a pick acquired from the Atlanta Dream at No. 4. The fifth pick belongs to the Dallas Wings.
Last year, the Storm used the No. 1 overall pick to select Jewell Loyd, who went on to be named WNBA Rookie of the Year presented by Samsung and headlined the 2015 WNBA All-Rookie Team.
The draft, hosted by Mohegan Sun Arena for the third year in a row, is open to the public. Sun season-ticket holders will be admitted free of charge and have access to priority seating as well as a special opportunity to meet the Sun’s draft picks in attendance. Fans who are not season-ticket holders will be admitted with the donation of a canned food item at the door, which will benefit the New London Community Meal Center.
Stewart is the only player ever to be named the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player four times. No other women’s player has won the award more than twice, and only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it three times on the men’s side. Stewart is also just the sixth women’s player to earn Associated Press All-America First Team honors three times. She was widely recognized as the nation’s top player, winning the Naismith Trophy, AP Player of the Year Award and Ann Meyers Drysdale Award in each of the past three seasons, and the Wooden Award in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Jefferson was a consensus All-America First Team selection for the 2015-16 season and the WBCA Defensive Player of the Year. She won the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation’s top point guard in each of the past two seasons and earned the 2016 Dawn Staley Award as the most outstanding collegiate guard in the country. Jefferson also surpassed Diana Taurasi as the Huskies’ all-time leader in assists (659).
Tuck was selected to the AP All-America Second Team and the All-American Athletic Conference First Team in 2015-16, helping UConn finish the season 38-0. She scored a team-high 21 points in the Huskies’ victory over Oregon State in the national semifinal.
Also participating in the telecast of WNBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm are guards Rachel Banham (Minnesota), Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina), Courtney Walker (Texas A&M) and Courtney Williams (South Florida); forwards Kahleah Copper(Rutgers), Jonquel Jones (George Washington), Aerial Powers (Michigan State) and Talia Walton (Washington); and centerImani Boyette (Texas).
Banham, the Big Ten career scoring leader (3,093 points), tied the NCAA single-game record of 60 points at Northwestern and tallied 52 at Michigan State this past season. In 2015-16 with the Golden Gophers, the Lakeville, Minn., native ranked No. 2 in Division I in total points (914), points per game (28.6) and three-point fields goals made per game (3.72).
Mitchell grew up a fan of WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley and went on to play for her at South Carolina, where Staley has been the head coach since 2008. Mitchell led the Gamecocks to the Final Four in 2015, when she also won the Dawn Staley Award. She is a three-time AP All-America selection, a three-time All-SEC First Team pick and a two-time SEC Player of the Year in a vote by the conference’s head coaches.
Texas A&M’s Walker is a three-time AP All-America honorable mention selection and a three-time All-SEC choice. She set school records for points (1,989) and free throw percentage (.884) during her clutch career, which included seven go-ahead or game-tying shots in the last minute of regulation or overtime.
South Florida’s Williams, the second-leading scorer in school history (2,304 points), was a unanimous AAC First Team selection in each of the past two seasons. In 2015-16, Williams paced the league in scoring (22.4 ppg, ninth in D-I) and tied for fifth in rebounding (8.4 rpg). She also was chosen as the AAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Copper ranks third on Rutgers’ career points list behind two players who went on to excel in the WNBA –
Cappie Pondexter and Sue Wicks. An All-Big Ten Second Team pick in 2015-16, Copper averaged 17.7 points and 8 rebounds and scored in double figures in 30 of 34 games.
A three-time All-Atlantic 10 selection, Jones is No. 2 on George Washington’s career rebounds list (1,041), No. 5 in points per game (14.9), despite spending less than three full seasons at the school. A 2015-16 All-America honorable mention selection by the AP and WBCA, Jones was the only A-10 player to average a scoring/rebounding double-double in each of the past three seasons.
Powers overcame an Achilles tendon injury in 2012 to become the only three-time All-Big Ten First Team selection in Michigan State history. In 2015-16, she earned AP All-America Third Team recognition after ranking fourth in the Big Ten in scoring (21.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.2 rpg). Powers scored a career-high 45 points in a 114-106 win over Minnesota this season, the same game in which the Gophers’ Banham tallied 52.
In 2015-16, Walton helped Washington reach the Women’s Final Four for the first time in school history. Walton was honored as an All-Pac-12 First Team choice this past season, when she averaged a career-high 16.5 points (fifth in the conference) and 6.4 rebounds.
Boyette made the All-Big 12 First Team as a junior and senior with the Longhorns. The three-time Big 12 All-Defensive Team selection was the conference’s co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2015-16 after leading the league in blocked shots (3.6 bpg) and ranking second in defensive rebounding (6.8 drpg).
WNBA.com will provide complete draft-day coverage and serve as the web destination for fans who want to track the top college seniors in advance of the draft. To view WNBA.com’s photo gallery of all-time No. 1 overall picks, click here.
The players invited to attend WNBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm are:
Name College/University Position Height
Rachel Banham Minnesota Guard 5-9
Imani Boyette Texas Center 6-7
Kahleah Copper Rutgers Forward/Guard 6-1
Moriah Jefferson Connecticut Guard 5-7
Jonquel Jones George Washington Forward 6-6
Tiffany Mitchell South Carolina Guard 5-9
Aerial Powers Michigan State Forward 6-0
Breanna Stewart Connecticut Forward 6-4
Morgan Tuck Connecticut Forward 6-2
Courtney Walker Texas A&M Guard 5-8
Talia Walton Washington Forward 6-2
Courtney Williams South Florida Guard 5-8
The current order for first round of the WNBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm is as follows:
1) Seattle (10-24)
2) San Antonio (8-26)
3) Connecticut (15-9)
4) Connecticut from Atlanta (15-19) (E. Williams, 2/3/16)
5) Dallas from Los Angeles (14-20) (E. Phillips, R. Williams 3/1/16)
6) Los Angeles from Dallas (18-16) (E. Phillips, R. Williams 3/1/16)
7) Washington (18-16)
8) Phoenix (20-14)
9) Indiana (20-14)
10) Chicago (21-13)
11) Atlanta from Minnesota (22-12) (S. Fowles, E. DeSouza, D. Dantas, R. Gray, 7/26/15)
12) New York (23-11)
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About the WNBA
The WNBA, which features 12 teams, is a unique global sports property combining competition, sportsmanship, and entertainment with its status as an icon for social change, achievement, and diversity. The league, which counts Verizon as its leaguewide marquee partner, will begin its 20thseason on May 14, 2016.
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