Professional Basketball

Stars take Plum with first overall pick in 2017 draft

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With the first overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft, the San Antonio Stars selected guard Kelsey Plum, from the University of Washington, and the all-time scorer in NCAA women’s basketball history.

Plum racked up 3,527 points during her collegiate career, posting a 25.4 points per game average, and passed the 3,393 mark set by Southwest Missouri State’s Jackie Stiles back in 2001. Only Pete Maravich’s 3,667 total collegiate points record stands above hers.

“I think for me, the best reason why I had such a good year was that I genuinely believed and emulated the fact that I was just going to do whatever my team needed. In going to San Antonio, that’s my focus, I’m going to be a great teammate, and I’m real excited about it,” said Plum.

San Antonio also selected Northwestern forward Nia Coffey with the fifth overall pick. Her father is Richard Coffey who played college ball for the University of Minnesota and briefly for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Her brother, Amir, currently plays for the University of Minnesota.

Richard Coffey taught Nia how to rebound and block shots when she was growing up. She took it to heart in college with averages of 9.2 rebounds per game and 229 career blocks. She set the Northwestern mark of 66 consecutive double-digit scoring games.

“We’re really excited. It adds to very talented players to our young core,” said Stars general manager Ruth Riley. “I’m looking forward to having these players here in San Antonio and getting their season started.”

“We drafted them because we believe they are the best players for us. Plum has re-written the history books and has a unique skill set. We believe in the potential of Nia Coffey. She’s going to make an impact at the pro level and we’re excited to have them both,” Riley added.

The Dallas Wings had an active first round by selecting Kentucky forward/center Evelyn Akhator with the third pick, South Carolina guards Allisha Gray with the fourth pick, and Kaela Davis with the tenth.

Davis is the daughter of Antonio Davis who played for the NBA’s Pacers, Raptors, Bulls and Knicks franchises during his 13-year career. Her twin brother A.J. plays for the University of Central Florida. She finished her career at South Carolina with a 16.7 points-per-game average and 120 steals.

“I’m very proud of her. She fought through adversity this year and showed people what she could do. Hopefully this is only the beginning,” said Antonio Davis. “She has the work ethic. She has the drive. She has the understanding of the game. Now it’s just putting it all together to create results.”

“I can adapt to things really quickly and hopefully I can bring that to Dallas,” said Kaela Davis.

With the 11th pick, the defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks grabbed Oregon State guard Sydney Wiese who finished her collegiate career with a .410 three-point shooting average.

“I have a weird shot, so maybe that will be to my advantage,” Wiese laughed when asked whether she will be able to get her three-point shots off against the bigger players in the league.

“I know that I’m going to be working hard these next couple weeks trying to prepare for what lies in store,” said Wiese. “I’m super thankful for the opportunity.

The Minnesota Lynx selected Baylor guard Alexis Jones with the 12th and final first round pick. Jones averaged 13.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game and concluded her collegiate career with 1,278 points. The also recorded a triple-double with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists against Oklahoma this past season.

“We like her versatility, her three-ball and it’s something we definitely need,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. “Our focus is that we’ve got ourselves a player who can be a part of our future and that can grow. She’s going to make a basketball play instinctively and is fairly efficient. She’s going to come into camp and be playing against some really great players from day one. All she needs is a willingness to learn and work her tail off.”

“I don’t think it’s daunting. I think it’s a great experience,” Jones acknowledged when asked about her thoughts of playing for a team that has made it to the WNBA Finals five of the last six years. “I think I fit in. I think I can fit the system fine. I am positive about going to Minnesota, they are a winning team. I think there are a lot of ways I can help this team.”

The WNBA training camps open on April 23, followed by the season opener on May 13.

NOTE:

The first round draft board is as follows:

1. San Antonio Stars – Kelsey Plum (G, Washington)

2. Chicago Sky – Alaina Coates (C, South Carolina)

3. Dallas Wings – Evelyn Akhator (F/C, Kentucky)

4. Dallas Wings – Allisha Gray (G, South Carolina)

5. San Antonio Stars – Nia Coffey (F, Northwestern)

6. Washington Mystics – Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (G, Maryland)

7. Atlanta Dream – Brittney Sykes (G, Syracuse)

8. Connecticut Sun – Brionna Jones (C, Maryland)

9. Chicago Sky – Tori Jankoska (G, Michigan State)

10. Dallas Wings – Kaela Davis (G, South Carolina)

11. Los Angeles Sparks – Sydney Wiese (G, Oregon State)

12. Minnesota Lynx – Alexis Jones (G, Baylor)

The full draft board including the second and third rounds can be found at http://www.wnba.com/2017-wnba-draft/

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