With her selection as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft on Monday, Tianna Hawkins became the first Maryland men's or women's basketball player to go in the top-10 of either the NBA or WNBA Draft since Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver went second and third in 2009.
Toliver has gone on to become the WNBA's Most Improved Player in her fourth season, while Greivis Vasquez (28th overall, 2010) is on the rise as well after finishing this season third in the NBA in assists per game. And don't forget seasoned veteran Steve Blake (38th overall, 2003), a solid contributor on a playoff team, who had 24 points Wednesday night to lead the Kobe-less Lakers to the 7-seed. All of them are former Terps who have found success in the pros.
But for a school that prides itself on being a basketball school, four years still seemed like a long time to have gone without a top-10 pick in either league, which is why the Seattle Storm using the sixth pick of the first round on Tianna was cause for celebration among the Terp faithful. And some of the all-time Maryland greats took note on Twitter:
Looks like I'll get to see a Terp a lot this summer on the west siiiide...congrats THawk— Kristi Toliver (@KristiToliver) April 16, 2013
Juan Dixon (@Juan_Dixon3) April 16, 2013
While she didn't go fourth overall as some people thought she might, going sixth is still very special because, as the last four years (Tianna's college years) indicate, opportunities to go top-10 don't grow on trees.
And going No. 6 makes Crystal Langhorne's career something Tianna can look to as a blueprint. Langhorne, a former Terp who is one of Hawkins' fellow 1,000-rebound club members, went sixth overall in 2008 to Washington and has had the pleasure of becoming the star of the team that drafted her.
Tianna hopes to become a star as well, and will have the privilege of playing alongside three players who were named among the top-15 WNBA players of all time in 2011: Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and Tina Thompson.