Dream draft Howard at No. 1; Smith goes to Fever

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  • Mechelle


      Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, females’s college basketball, and varied college sports activities for espnW. Voepel started overlaying females’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

The Atlanta Dream, who traded up closing week to possess the tip total hang in the 2022 WNBA draft, selected Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard at No. 1 on Monday evening in Recent York.

The Washington Mystics received the draft lottery in December nonetheless traded the tip hang to Atlanta closing week, as the Dream moved up from No. 3 to guarantee they received Howard.

The 6-foot-2 Howard, the SEC Player of the 365 days as a sophomore and a junior, averaged 20.5 components and 7.4 rebounds for the length of her senior season, main the Wildcats in components, rebounds, 3-pointers, steals and blocks. The single varied SEC participant to develop that over the final 20 seasons used to be Mississippi Speak‘s Tan White (2003-04 and 2004-05).

“I’m shaking acceptable now,” Howard told ESPN’s Holly Rowe after being drafted at No. 1. “It’s a dream advance perfect.”

Baylor‘s 6-4 forward NaLyssa Smith, the Colossal 12 Player of the 365 days the previous two seasons, used to be the No. 2 hang by the Indiana Fever, who had four first-spherical picks.

“I’m coming in hungry,” said Smith, who can play either the ability forward or limited forward space in the WNBA. She is identified for scoring in the paint and believes her fluctuate will withhold increasing.

Smith averaged 22.1 components and 11.5 rebounds this previous season for the Bears, who received the Colossal 12 regular-season title for the 12th 365 days in a row. She used to be section of Baylor’s 2019 nationwide championship personnel as a freshman.

The head three picks went as expected, as the Mystics selected Ole Omit 6-5 heart Shakira Austin at No. 3. Austin averaged 15.2 components and 9.0 rebounds for the Rebels in 2021-22 and may well perhaps well additionally be a pressure on internal offense and protection for Washington.

The Fever had been expected to lag huge on protection and posts with their early-spherical picks, and the closing hang in the lottery at No. 4 fit every: Louisville 6-1 forward Emily Engstler, who helped the Cardinals develop the females’s Closing Four in 2022. Same description goes for the Fever’s No. 10 hang, Smith’s Baylor teammate, 6-3 heart Queen Egbo.

However the Fever’s preference at No. 6 used to be a surprise: Stanford guard Lexie Hull, who many projected as a 2nd-spherical hang. But Hull, who helped the Cardinal possess the NCAA title in 2021 and develop it support to the Closing Four this previous season, impressed Indiana total manager Lin Dunn with her nonstop hustle and expertise to hit 3-pointers.

It used to be the first time a WNBA personnel has had four picks in the first spherical. With Smith, Engstler, Hull and Egbo, Dunn hopes Indiana has a younger foundation to support the Fever return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Franchise tale Tamika Catchings retired following that season.

“We’re gonna rebuild with younger gamers,” Dunn said of the Fever, who closing had a a hit regular-season file in 2015. “I’m seeing highly professional gamers coming out of faculty, nonetheless the particular key adjustments are the physicality and the dash of the game. I need gamers who can adapt to that like a flash.”

The No. 5 hang brought one other “sister act” to the WNBA, as Oregon heart/forward Nyara Sabally is headed to Recent York. Her older sister, Satou Sabally of Oregon, went to Dallas with the No. 2 hang in 2020.

Sabally received to be aware with Liberty point guard Sabrina Ionescu when the two had been at Oregon and she is worked as much as believe a likelihood to play with her in the WNBA. Ionescu used to be the No. 1 hang in the 2020 draft.

“Sab is such an out of the ordinary point guard,” Sabally said. “I seen her in be aware on day by day foundation and am furious to share the court docket with her.”

The Wings, meanwhile, had the No. 7 hang this 365 days and went with Northwestern guard Veronica Burton, who used to be the Colossal Ten and WBCA Defensive Player of the 365 days. The 5-9 Burton is idea to be a high-tier perimeter defender for a Dallas personnel that will exercise an upgrade there.

Yet every other surprise came at No. 8, as Las Vegas took Colorado forward Mya Hollingshed, who helped the Buffaloes develop the NCAA tournament this previous season for the first time since 2013. The Aces made a trade Sunday with Minnesota to earn the Nos. 8 and 13 picks; they took LSU guard Khayla Pointer with the latter.

Tennessee soar Rae Burrell, who helped the Girl Vols to the Candy 16, used to be the Los Angeles Sparks’ preference at No. 9.

The Aces took Florida Gulf Float‘s Kierstan Bell with the 11th hang. Bell, who started her college occupation at Ohio Speak and averaged 23.6 components and 9.4 rebounds while at FGCU, received the Becky Hammon Mid-Predominant Player of the 365 days award the previous two years. She now will earn a likelihood to play for Hammon, the Aces’ contemporary coach.

Connecticut performed off the first spherical by deciding on Nia Clouden, who averaged 20 components this previous season for Michigan Speak.

Howard is the 2nd participant the Dream believe picked No. 1, following Louisville’s Angel McCoughtry in 2009. McCoughtry led the Dream to three appearances in the WNBA Finals.

Howard’s 284 occupation 3-pointers are section of what makes her a multidimensional menace, as she is additionally huge ample to submit up against most defenders. Howard can hang the assorted to change into a signature participant for a Dream franchise that went 8-24 closing season and has passed over the playoffs four of the previous five years.

Howard, who used to be the first Kentucky participant to lag No. 1 in the draft, could be shut to dwelling, having grown up in Cleveland, Tennessee, about 118 miles from Atlanta.

“For it to be so shut is broad. Quite rather a lot of family and shut pals can advance and presents a boost to me,” Howard said. “To switch first, I develop no longer believe phrases for it acceptable now. Mild shaking. Clean spellbinding and jubilant with myself and thankful for everyone that has been on this run with me and helped me earn right here.”

Draftees had been ready to support the match in individual for the first time since 2019, as the draft needed to be done remotely in 2020 and 2021 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amongst projected first-spherical picks who dropped into the 2nd spherical had been UConn guard Christyn Williams (No. 14, Mystics), Michigan forward Naz Hillmon (No. 15, Dream), NC Speak heart Elissa Cunane (No. 17, Seattle Storm) and South Carolina guard Destanni Henderson (No. 20, Fever). The Storm additionally traded their No. 18 hang to Recent York for a 2nd-spherical hang in 2023, and the Liberty took Georgia Tech forward Lorela Cubaj.

Sika Kone, a 19-365 days-ragged heart from Mali, additionally used to be idea to be a doable first-rounder, nonetheless went in the third spherical to Recent York at No. 29.

The WNBA season guidelines off on May possibly well additionally fair 6, with coaching camps opening later this week.

The Associated Press contributed to this file.

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