It's not exactly breaking news for me to report that UConn has become a training ground for future WNBA stars.
Not only is UConn second behind only Tennessee with 34 players being taken in the WNBA Draft but if Kia Nurse, Azura' Stevens and Gabby Williams are selected in the first round as expected in tomorrow night's draft, UConn would have a record 23 of its players selected in the first round. As a point of reference, only Tennessee and Stanford will have had more of its players taken in any round of the draft than UConn would have had its products selected in the first round.
Taking it a step further, beginning with the Class of 2001 (the first year that a UConn player was selected in the first round) there have been 33 four-year players at UConn who finished their careers averaging at least 15 minutes per game and 27 of them have played in the WNBA. That ratio is about to increase to 29 for 35. Three of the six players not on the list were injured as seniors (Shea Ralph, Caroline Doty and Mel Thomas) while Maria Conlon and Lorin Dixon took part in WNBA training camps. The other player is Nicole Wolff, a top recruit coming out of high school who dealt with injuries throughout her four seasons at UConn.
If Nurse, Stevens and Williams are all taken in the first round, it would mark the sixth time that three players from the same college were No. 1 picks in the same year. Three of those six occurrences will involve UConn.
Georgia, 2001: 1-2 Kelly Miller, 1-6 Deanna Nolan, 1-9 Coco Miller
UConn, 2002: 1-1 Sue Bird, 1-2 Swin Cash, 1-4 Asjha Jones, 1-6 Tamika Williams
Tennessee, 2012: 1-2 Shekinna Stricklen, 1-4 Glory Johnson, 1-7 Kelley Cain
UConn, 2016: 1-1 Breanna Stewart, 1-2 Moriah Jefferson, 1-3 Morgan Tuck
South Carolina, 2017: 1-2 Alaina Coates, 1-4 Allisha Gray, 1-10 Kaela Davis
The first round airs on ESPN2 from 7-8 p.m. tomorrow with the second and third rounds set to be televised from 8-9 p.m. on ESPNU.
There's a chance that former UConn forward/center Natalie Butler, who played her final season at George Mason and led all NCAA Division I women's basketball players in rebounds per game, could be drafted. The WNBA people I've spoken to believe New Haven native Tanaya Atkinson has a chance to be drafted as well. Also, former UConn guard and Meriden native Sadie Edwards took part in a combine held during the Final Four.