WNBA draft set for Thursday; San Antonio holds No. 1 pick

Washington guard Kelsey Plum, center, speaks to a television crew alongside her father, Jim, left, and mother, Katie, before the WNBA basketball draft, Thursday, April 13, 2017, in NY. "I'm ready to get working for San Antonio". She averaged 15.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1 block per game in College Park.

Nine Gamecocks all-time have been selected in the WNBA Draft, including five during head coach Dawn Staley's tenure with this year's draftees joining Aleighsa Welch (2015) and Tiffany Mitchell (2016). "The [professional] game is bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic than we have ever seen it, and I think it's harder to come in and make an impact for those reasons".

This year, the Storm don't have a draft pick until the third pick of the second round. Osahor is one of those players who could surprise people, but she'll have to make a team, which won't be easy. In addition to Plum, Oregon State's Sydney Wiese also went in the first round to Los Angeles at No. 11, while Stanford's Erica McCall and Washington's Chantel Osahor went in the second round 17th and 21st to in and Chicago, respectively. Three players from national champion SC - center Alaina Coates and early entry guards Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray - could also be first-round picks.

She still isn't able to really fly, so drove up to NY from SC.

"It's very exciting, and I'm very nervous, and my heart's pumping", Coates said on her TV interview.

"I feel like in little areas like hustle plays, other type of intangibles, things you might not expect from a tall center", Coates described as ways she could affect the game.

"I feel like they see the potential in me, and that my résumé that I built throughout my career at SC really spoke to them", Coates said. "I know I'm probably going to get beat up as a rookie, but I'm looking forward to it". "It's all up to what the doctors say".

Davis' South Carolina teammate Alaina Coates was selected second by Chicago.

Being drafted so high Thursday was especially gratifying for Coates, considering the last we saw of her on the basketball court was March 4, when she limped off after a brief appearance in the SEC tournament semifinals.

Alaina Coates and Kaela Davis, two more SC players, were also on hand.

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"For us, it's definitely about representing SC, but we want to grow the game", said Davis, who was coached by former WNBAer Dawn Staley at USC.

"She really hasn't scratched the surface yet of all she can do", SC coach Dawn Staley said. "Neither one of them is afraid to take the ball to the rim and neither is afraid to challenge anybody defensively".

Dallas had three first-round picks, and the Wings went all-SEC.

"It's so great to see those three young ladies get a chance to realize their dreams", Staley said. Then at No. 5, they picked Northwestern forward Nia Coffey.

Coates, Gray, and Davis became the seventh, eighth, and ninth Gamecocks taken in the WNBA Draft.

Not long after McCall went 17th, fellow frontcourt standout Chantel Osahor also went in the second round to the Chicago Sky with the No. 21 pick.

Wiese, the Pac-12's all-time leading 3-point maker, gives the Pac-12 two first-round draft picks for the first time since 2011, when Stanford teammates Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen both went in the top 10.

The journey to Samsung 837, the new setting where the WNBA has made a decision to hold the 2017 draft, has been a particularly grueling one for Alaina Coates.

Borders was thrilled with the new venue. "I'm excited to join the organization", she said after the selection.

  • Lawrence Cooper