Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck had historic careers at UConn. The trio made more history Thursday night in the WNBA as the top three picks in the draft.
Stewart went first to the Seattle Storm, Jefferson second to San Antonio and Tuck third to Connecticut. It’s the first time that the top three picks came from the same school.
Washington State also made some history as former guard Lia Galdeira became the first player in Cougars history to be drafted. The Washington Mystics selected Galdeira in the second round with the 19th overall pick.
Two picks earlier, the Connecticut Sun selected Oregon State’s Jamie Weisner (Clarkston High).
Stewart expressed pride in her former college team.
“When you look at our senior class it speaks for itself going one, two, three,” Stewart said. “Lots of comparisons between past UConn teams and this one, when we do things that make history, that’s saying it all.”
Stewart was talking to the media when she heard that Tuck was drafted third by the Sun.
“I’m so happy,” she said. “That made have me more happy than being No. 1 overall. To see her go through all that she’s been through, to leave with us and then for us to go 1-2-3 that’s picture perfect.”
No draft in any major sport has had the top three picks come from the same school according to information provided to the WNBA by the Elias Sports Bureau.
“We’re sisters for sure,” Jefferson said. “I heard her name and I stopped, started clapping. I got so emotional. To go through the journey the way we have and make history on the college level and history here, it’s unbelievable. I can’t think of anything being any better.”
The WNBA has had two of the first three players come from the same school on three separate occasions. The closest to the top three being from the same team was in 2002 when UConn had players taken first, second, fourth and sixth.
The 6-foot-4 Stewart averaged 19.4 points and 8.7 rebounds to lead the Huskies to a fourth consecutive national championship earlier this month. She became the first player in NCAA history to earn most outstanding player of the Final Four all four years.
When her name was called by new WNBA President Lisa Borders, Stewart hugged UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who was sitting at her table. She then gave a hug to Jefferson and Tuck with her other former UConn teammates applauding from the crowd at Mohegan Sun. It was the third straight season that the draft was held at the home of the Connecticut Sun. There was a loud crowd on hand to cheer on the former Huskies and draft picks.
It marked the second straight season that the Storm had the top pick in the draft. Seattle took Jewell Loyd at No. 1 last year. The team also had back-to-back No. 1 selections in 2001 and 2002 when Seattle drafted Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird.
Rachel Banham went fourth to Connecticut. The Minnesota guard tied the NCAA record this season with 60 points in a game.
“I’m beyond excited to be here in Connecticut,” Banham said. “The fan base here is incredible.”
Michigan State’s Aerial Powers went fifth to Dallas while George Washington’s Jonquel Jones was picked sixth by Los Angeles. Soon after getting drafted she was later traded to Connecticut for Chelsea Gray and the Sun’s No. 1 draft pick next year. The teams also traded a few picks in the second and third round of Thursday’s draft.
“Got to adapt and make changes,” Jones said to laughter moments after getting dealt.
Rutgers’ Kahleah Copper was drafted seventh by Washington. South Florida’s Courtney Williams went eighth to Phoenix. South Carolina’ Tiffany Mitchell was picked ninth by Indiana.
Texas center Imani Boyette went 10th to Chicago and could be the first daughter of a WNBA player to make a roster. Her mom, Pamela McGee, was the No. 2 pick in the 1997 draft and played for Sacramento and the Los Angeles Sparks. Yolanda Griffith’s daughter, Alicia DeVaughn, attended training camps in 2014 and 2015 but didn’t make the regular-season roster.
“It’s a lot to know that I can do the same thing my mom did,” Boyette said. “Hopefully, in a better way. I’m blessed to be here. I watched a lot of WNBA growing up. … I’m excited that it’s my turn to be the one getting watched.”
Atlanta took West Virginia’s Bria Holmes with the 11th pick. She is the first native of Connecticut to be drafted. New York closed out the first round by drafting Florida State’s Adut Bulgak.
The league’s 20th anniversary season will tip off May 14. Training camps open April 24.
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