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Connecticut Women’s Basketball Makes Big Moves in 2014 WNBA Draft

by Hayley Tafuro | Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Bria Hartley (left) and Stefanie Dolson (right) of the University of Connecticut are now both members of the Washington Mystics. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

Bria Hartley (left) and Stefanie Dolson (right) of the University of Connecticut are now both members of the Washington Mystics. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

UNCASVILLE — It was a crazy but promising night for Connecticut women’s basketball in the Mohegan Sun Arena at this year’s WNBA Draft.

The Connecticut Sun selected Chiney Ogwumike of Stanford as the No. 1 overall pick. Ogwumike was a no-brainer as the first selection. The 4-time First Team All-American dominated the court averaging 18.9 points and 10.8 rebounds during her four years at Stanford.

The Sun added two more first round picks to their roster including Chelsea Gray of Duke at No. 11 overall, and No. 4 pick Alyssa Thomas of Maryland who was acquired through a last-minute trade with the New York Liberty

That trade sent the Sun’s top player Tina Charles to New York. Charles averaged 18.0 points and 10.1 rebounds for the Sun last season and was arguably the most important component to the team’s success.

With Charles departing, Ogwumike will have some big shoes to fill, but she couldn’t feel more up for the challenge.

“I feel like it’s destiny,” she said. “I worked really hard to get where I am and I know I have so much work to do now.”

Also as a part of this whirlwind deal, in exchange for Charles, the Sun received Kelsey Bone (6.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) who will be entering her second year in the league, and the Liberty’s first-round pick for the next year.

Connecticut hopes to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 season after finishing last in the East Conference with a 10-24 record. This draft has proven to be their first solid effort to keep their playoff aspirations for this coming season alive.

As for the local talent, seniors Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley of the University of Connecticut will stick together on their journeys to the pros as they both get ready to join the Washington Mystics.

Dolson was picked sixth overall by Washington. Hartley on the other hand originally went seventh overall to the Seattle Storm where she was on her way to playing with former UConn superstar Sue Bird. However during the second round of the draft, a trade sparked between the Mystics and the Storm that sent Hartley and Seattle’s Tianna Hawkins to Washington in exchange for forward Crystal Langhorne.

Rounding out the rest of the top picks of the night were Odyssey Sims of Baylor as the No. 2 pick by the Tulsa Shock, Kayla McBride of Notre Dame taken third by the San Antonio Stars, and Natasha Howard of Florida going No. 5 overall to the Indiana Fever.

Between the Sun’s strides and UConn players’ success in the first round, Connecticut fans can feel pretty satisfied with the outcomes of the draft. It’s safe to say that calendars are already marked for the first Connecticut vs. Washington matchup of the WNBA season, which tips off May 16.

 

Here are some noteworthy facts to take away from the night:

-The Ogwumike sisters, Chiney and Nneka, are the only other siblings to both go as the No. 1 pick in an American pro-sport draft since Peyton and Eli Manning.

- This was the second time in franchise history that the Connecticut Sun had the first pick in the draft.

-Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley are the 26th and 27th UConn players to be selected in the WNBA Draft.

-This is the first time UConn has had two players chosen in the first round since 2002 when they had four players go in the first round.

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