WNBA's Griner era begins; Sparks pick Kentucky's Mathies in draft's first round

April 16, 2013

The Phoenix Mercury selected Baylor’s Brittney Griner with the first overall pick of the 2013 WNBA Draft, ushering one of the most promising prospects in the history of women's basketball into the professional ranks.

A 6-8 center, Griner was a dominant presence at Baylor, finishing her collegiate career ranked first all-time in Women’s NCAA Division 1 history in blocks (748) and dunks (18), and second in points (3,283) and double-figure scoring games (146 of 148).

In fact, Griner's total blocks actually leads both women and men – topping the 564 of Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado -- while her 18 dunks account for 54.5 percent of the 33 total dunks by college women.

With her size, offensive skills, defensive presence, and competitive drive, Griner is projected to have a major impact on the league for years to come.

The Chicago Sky chose Elena Delle Donne of Delaware with the second overall selection, while the Tulsa Shock picked Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins at number 3.

A 6-5 guard/forward, Delle Donne led the nation in scoring as a junior, finished second as a senior, and completed her college career as the fifth-leading scorer in NCAA history (3,039).

Point guard Diggins, a four-time All-America, finished her career as Notre Dame’s career leader in points and steals, and ranks second in assists. The 5-9 guard and heartthrob joins the Sky already established as a social media celebrity, with over 300,000 followers on Twitter (@SkyDigg4).

With the fifth overall pick, the Washington Mystics selected Ohio State’s Tyler Hill, a 5-10 guard and defensive stalwart, who averaged 20-plus points in both her junior and senior years.

The New York Liberty, the lone team with multiple picks in the first round, picked Texas A&M’s Kelsey Bone, a 6-4 center, with the fifth overall selection and Oklahoma State’s Toni Young, a 6-2 forward, at No. 7.

The Seattle Storm used the sixth overall selection on Maryland’s Tianna Hawkins, a 6-3 forward and an All-ACC First Team pick.

The San Antonio Silver Stars selected 6-4 center Kayla Alexander from Syracuse with the eighth pick. Alexander, a big with upside, is the only player in school history to top 2,000 points (2,024).

The Indiana Fever used the ninth selection on Cal’s Layshia Clarendon, a speedy 5-9 guard who earned All-Pac-12 First Team honors as a senior.

With the 10th pick, the Los Angeles Sparks tapped Kentucky’s A'dia Mathies, a 5-9 guard and the first Wildcats' player (male or female) to post 1,900 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists, and 300 steals in a career.

“I am very thankful to the LA Sparks organization for bringing me into the WNBA,” said Mathies. “This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and it’s exciting to have it come true in Los Angeles. I am looking forward to starting a new life and basketball career with the Sparks and my new teammates.”

The 5-9 guard helped led Kentucky to one of its most successful seasons in school history, having won a school record 30 games as a senior and advancing the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament a school-record four consecutive seasons.

“We are excited to add A’dia to our already talented backcourt,” said Sparks Executive Vice President and general manager Penny Toler. “She is an all-around talented player who can run, shoot and defend and will be a solid force off the bench for us. With our diverse and deep roster, A’dia will be able to come in and play her game while still developing and learning from veteran guards Kristi (Toliver), Lindsey (Harding) and Alana (Beard).”

The Connecticut Sun selected UConn’s Kelly Faris, a 5-11 guard and All-BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, with the 11th overall pick. With the 12th and final pick of the first round, the Minnesota Lynx took Nebraska’s 5-9 guard Lindsey Moore.

The Atlanta Dream tipped off the second round by selecting Penn State’s Alex Bentley with the 13th overall pick.

The Los Angeles Sparks selected Kansas State guard Brittany Chambers in the second round with the 22nd overall pick.

Chambers, a 5-8 guard, is one of only three Kansas State players to earn All-Big 12 First Team honors three times during her collegiate career.

“A three-time All-Big 12 First Team player out of Kansas State, Brittany brings a dynamic scoring ability with tremendous offensive skills from the three-point line all the way to the rim,” said Sparks head coach Carol Ross. “She is a fierce competitor and has a solid knowledge and understanding of the game. She will be an exciting player to watch, and we are thrilled she is joining our Sparks family.”

As a senior, she averaged career-highs in points (21.0), rebounds (7.6) and assists (3.3) and was the only player in the Big 12 with 600 points, 200 rebounds and 90 assists. She scored in double figures 30 times, topping 20 points 18 times.

The complete draft order and selections are below:

First Round
1. Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Baylor
2. Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Delaware
3. Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock), Notre Dame
4. Tayler Hill (Washington Mystics), Ohio State
5. Kelsey Bone (New York Liberty), Texas A&M
6. Tianna Hawkins (Seattle Storm), Maryland
7. Toni Young (New York Liberty), Oklahoma State
8. Kayla Alexander (San Antonio Silver Stars), Syracuse
9. Layshia Clarendon (Indiana Fever), Cal
10. A'dia Mathies (Los Angeles Sparks), Kentucky
11. Kelly Faris (Connecticut Sun), UConn
12. Lindsey Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Nebraska

Second Round
13. Alex Bentley (Atlanta Dream), Penn State
14. Sugar Rodgers (Minnesota Lynx), Georgetown
15. Kamiko Williams (New York Liberty), Tennessee
16. Davellyn Whyte (San Antonio), Arizona
17. Nadirah McKenith (Washington Mystics), Texas A&M
18. Chelsea Poppens (Seattle Storm), Iowa State
19. Emma Meesseman (Washington Mystics), Belgium
20. Diandra Tchatchouang (San Antonio Silver Stars), France
21. Jasmine Hassell (Indiana Fever), Georgia
22. Brittany Chambers (Los Angeles Sparks), Kansas State
23. Anna Prins (Connecticut Sun), Iowa State
24. Chucky Jeffery (Minnesota Lynx), Colorado

Third Round
25. Shenneika Smith (New York Liberty), St. John’s
26. Nikki Greene (Phoenix Mercury), Penn State
27. Olcay Cakir (New York Liberty), Turkey
28. Brooklyn Pope (Chicago Sky), Baylor
29. Angel Goodrich (Tulsa Shock), Kansas
30. Jasmine James (Seattle Storm), Georgia
31. Ann Marie Armstrong (Atlanta Dream), Georgia
32. Whitney Hand (San Antonio Silver Stars), Oklahoma
33. Jennifer George (Indiana Fever), Florida
34. Alina Iagupova (Los Angeles Sparks), Ukraine
35. Andrea Smith (Connecticut Sun), South Florida
36. Waltiea Rolle (Minnesota Lynx), North Carolina

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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