It was no surprise that Kelsey Plum of the University of Washington, the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I basketball, was the top pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. Chosen by the San Antonio Stars, which had the worst record in the league in 2016, Plum is obviously expected to bring the offensive fire power that also earned her the NCAA D I single season record.
“I’ve been dreaming about it for so long,” said Plum, a lefty guard, who is excited to play for the Stars’ new head coach, former New York Liberty standout Vickie Johnson. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity. I’m going to make the most of it.”
The second pick of the draft was Alaina Coates of the University of South Carolina, a center still on the mend from ankle surgery that knocked her out of the NCAA Tournament. She said she is deeply appreciative that Chicago Sky coach Amber Stocks saw her potential. Once healed, Coates said she welcomes the physicality of WNBA post play.
Two other South Carolina players, Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis, were also picked in the first round. Of local note, the Atlanta Dream selected Newark, N.J., native Brittney Sykes of Syracuse University.
Because of trades during the offseason that brought local talent—center Kia Vaughn of the Bronx and point guard Bria Hartley from Long Island—to the Liberty, the team had no first‑round picks. In the second round, the Liberty chose guard Lindsay Allen of University of Notre Dame.
“Lindsay Allen fits the mold of what we were looking for—a very high basketball IQ, a solid competitor, athletic and a great example of what a good quality teammate is,” said Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer. In her senior season, Allen led the Fighting Irish in assists and averaged 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
In the third round the Liberty chose Kai James, a center from Florida State University. She understands the Liberty roster is pretty stacked, but she’s excited to be around the talented pros and learn from them.
“Ever since I’ve been playing basketball, making it to the WNBA has been a dream of mine,” said James, a traditional back-to-the-basket center. “I’m willing to come in and do whatever the team needs for me to do.”