Uncasville, CT -- As if Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck had not accomplished enough in their last four years at the University of Connecticut, the trio made history together one last time Thursday night at the 2016 WNBA Draft.
After becoming the first players to win four-straight NCAA National Championships just a couple weeks ago, the three Husky standouts headlined the Draft that kicked off the league's 20th season. The college teammates became the first trio from the same school to go consecutively at the top of either the NBA or WNBA Draft.
"We're excited that this year is starting with a lot of momentum," WNBA President Lisa Borders said. "It's an exciting time for all of us, as we move into our landmark 20th season. The tip-off is just around the corner, but we're excited about the draft class tonight."
Stewart became the fifth UConn player selected first overall when the Seattle Storm made official what people had expected ever since the Storm won the lottery back in September. Seattle adds Stewart to a roster that includes last year's top overall pick and WNBA Rookie of the Year, Jewell Loyd.
The San Antonio Stars selected Jefferson second overall, who will return to play in her home state. The Stars are in need of a playmaker after losing their main creator from last season, Danielle Robinson, who will miss the entire 2016 season after undergoing surgery on her achilles. Jefferson is the perfect candidate to fill that void, while also helping San Antonio where they struggled most, on offense.
With back-to-back picks, the Connecticut Sun took the last of UConn's "Big 3" still on the board when they chose Morgan Tuck third overall. Tuck will be joined by the team's fourth overall selection, Rachel Banham, a guard from the University of Minnesota. Not only do the Sun add these two players to a team with a new head coach in Curt Miller, the team also essentially adds Chiney Ogwumike, who missed the 2015 season with a knee injury.
The first pick outside the lottery was made by the Dallas Wings, who acquired the pick from the Los Angeles Sparks. The Wings selected forward Aerial Powers from Michigan State. Dallas filled a need on the wing with Powers, who is a versatile player that will fit nicely next to one of the leagues best backcourts of Skylar Diggins and Odyssey Sims.
The Los Angeles Sparks briefly filled a need up front when they selected the 6-foot-6 Jonquel Jones from George Washington with the sixth pick. The Sparks then traded the rights to Jones and their 17th overall pick in this year's draft to the Sun for Connecticut's 15th and 23rd overall picks, Chelsea Gray as well as the Sun's first round pick in 2017.
The Sparks, in addition to getting an additional first round pick next year, add Gray who can help improve their backcourt depth.
After losing in the first round of the playoffs, the Washington Mystics added Kahleah Copper from Rutgers University, a wing who can help an already solid defense team with scoring.
The Phoenix Mercury drafted guard Courtney Williams from South Florida, knowing they would also be getting a seven-time All-Star and three-time WNBA Champion back for the 2016 season. Diana Taurasi will be rejoining the Mercury after playing last season overseas, and will make for a nice running mate for Williams to learn from.
Despite making it to the WNBA Finals last season, the Indiana Fever began planning for life after legend Tamika Catchings retires when they drafted guard Tiffany Mitchell from South Florida ninth overall. The Chicago Sky rounded out the top ten picks by taking center Imani Boyette from Texas.
The Atlanta Dream selected Bria Holmes from West Virginia at number eleven, and the New York Liberty chose Adut Bulgak from Florida State with the last pick in the first round.