The Dallas Wings designed the Texas postal player Charli Collier with the number 1 in the WNBA draft 2021 on Thursday.
Collier becomes the first Longhorns player to be the WNBA’s top pick and the second in the Big 12, after Baylor center Brittney Griner in 2013.
The wings took another postal player, 6-foot-5 Awak Kuier of Finland, with the No. 2 choice. It is the first time in the history of the league that a team has had picks 1 and 2. The Wings got the top pick in a February trade after getting the second pick in the draft lottery.
“Needless to say, we are delighted with the results of the design for our organization,” said Greg Bibb, president and general manager of Wings. “We took another big step forward tonight with the progress of our team.” Obviously, with Charli and Awak’s draft, we have the two best players in the draft. ”
The 6-foot-5 necklace averaged 19 points and 11.3 rebounds while shooting 51.1% off the field for the 21-10 Longhorns who advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. Collier is a draft-capable junior because she turns 22 this calendar year.
She will play for a pro team in her native Texas. She is from Mont Belvieu in the Houston area.
“My heart is racing right now because I’ve worked so hard for it,” Collier told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “This is a game I love. I deserve to be here and I’m built for it. This is my moment.”
Collier is the third true junior to be number 1 after Notre Dame Guards Jewell Loyd in 2015 and Jackie Young in 2019. Tennessee’s Candace Parker was a junior in the selection when she was number 1 in 2008, but she had been in school four years after redshirting her first season in 2004-05.
19-year-old Kuier plays professionally for Ragusa in Italy, where she averaged 8.9 points and 6.8 rebounds this season and won a playoff game on Thursday before being drafted. She won’t be 20 years old until August.
Kuier was born in Cairo after her parents fled war-torn South Sudan. When she was 2 years old, her family immigrated to Finland. She is the first Finnish female player in WNBA history and the seventh international female player not to have played U.S. college basketball and was selected in the top 5 of the draft.
Dallas went 8-14 and missed the playoffs in ninth place in last year’s shortened season in Bradenton, Florida. Like the other WNBA teams, the Wings will be back in their home market this season, playing at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.
Vickie Johnson is in her first season as coach of the Wings; She was previously the head coach in San Antonio and played 13 seasons in the WNBA. In Collier and Kuier, Johnson and the Wings get two tall players with goal and rebound ability.
“An elite basketball player, so happy that she will be my teammate. I followed her and watched her play,” said Collier of Kuier. “Six-foot-5, long, versatile. Cant wait to play with her and get to know her as a basketball player and teammate.”
Dallas also added that Arkansas placed Chelsea Dungee in fifth place with its third first-round pick. Dungee gives the wings another offensive guard along with Arike Ogunbowale, a third year professional.
Aari McDonald is voted 3rd overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2021 WNBA draft. This makes her the first Arizona player to be drafted in the first round.
The Atlanta Dream put NCAA tournament star Aari McDonald in 3rd place. The guard led Arizona to the national championship game and became the first Wildcat player to be included in the first round of the WNBA draft.
The first big surprise of the draft came in fourth place when the Indiana Fever took away West Virginia security guard Kysre Gondrezick, who was predicted by most for the second or third round. She led the climbers (22-7) with 19.5 points per game last season.
New York picked UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere with the sixth choice. Los Angeles finished with Jasmine Walker from Alabama in seventh place, Chicago’s Australian Shyla Heal in eighth and Rennia Davis from Tennessee in ninth place after Minnesota. Stephanie Watts from North Carolina went to Los Angeles as 10th.
Defending champions Seattle Storm next picked Aaliyah Wilson from Texas A&M. Wilson did not stay long in Seattle as long as she was traded for Kennedy Burke in Indiana. WNBA finalist Las Vegas called in Iliana Rupert from France to finish the first round.
Dallas completed its four picks in the top 13 with the choice of Louisville’s Dana Evans, which was expected to be taken much sooner.
“It’s a blessing to be excited to finally hear my name,” said an emotional Evans [fall] so far. I am ready to take on whatever I have to do. ”
The Washington Mystics were the first team in WNBA history that did not make a selection in the draft. The Mystics swapped all three of their picks to bring in former league MVP Tina Charles last year.
For the second season in a row, the three-round draft was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, who announced the selection from home last season, was at an ESPN studio in New York while the players were at home and virtually performing as they were drafted.
With possibly only 144 roster slots in the WNBA, and so many players under contract or still in rookie deals, there aren’t many places open for players to team up. There’s a good chance there are fewer than a dozen conscripts on the opening day rosters.
“It’s really difficult to find and stay in this league,” said Los Angeles coach Derek Fisher. Earn a Place … it will be difficult for any player drafted tonight to be on the team to stay. ”
The Sparks drafted five players on Thursday evening.
The training camps open around April 25th and the season starts on May 14th.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.