Griner towers over draft for Phoenix

The Associated PressApril 16, 2013 

BRISTOL, Conn. – Brittney Griner left an indelible mark on women’s college basketball. Now she’s ready to take on the pros.

The Phoenix Mercury took Baylor’s star center with the first overall pick in the WNBA draft Monday. Despite knowing she was going first, the two-time AP Player of the Year said she was nervous.

“It’s a dream come true; I’m like a little kid in Disney World the first time meeting all the characters,” Griner said.

The 6-foot-8 phenom finished as the second all-time scorer in women’s NCAA history, with 3,283 points. She is the top shot-blocker in college history, shattering both the men’s and women’s marks with 748. She also had a women’s record 18 dunks — including 11 this season.

Soon after the draft started, WNBA president Laurel Richie announced Griner as the first choice.

Griner joins a talented Mercury squad that was plagued by injuries last season. Star Diana Taurasi was limited to eight games, Penny Taylor missed the entire season with an ACL injury and Candice Dupree missed 21 games.

It was an eventful day for Griner. Not only was she the top pick, but she bumped into her skateboarding idol Tony Hawk, who was also at ESPN.

“Getting drafted being the No. 1 overall pick, that was above it, but Tony’s right there at No. 2,” Griner said.

Like Phoenix, Chicago added a budding star in Elena Delle Donne with the No. 2 pick to an already stacked roster that just missed the playoffs last season. The 6-foot-5 forward from Delaware was second in the nation in scoring (26.0) and averaged 8.5 rebounds. She finished her college career with 3,039 points — fifth in NCAA history.

“This is a phenomenal team I’m joining … ,” Delle Donne said. “I’ll learn a ton from these players. We definitely have a great team. I felt I was a good puzzle piece for this team. You don’t say where you want to go before it was happening, but Chicago was my pick and I wanted to go there really badly.”

Tulsa took Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins with the third pick. Diggins averaged 17.1 points, 6.1 assists and 3.1 steals while helping the Irish reach the Final Four the past three seasons.

While the first three picks were almost a lock, the rest of the draft was a bit more of a mystery with no clear-cut choices going in.

Washington took Ohio State guard Tayler Hill fourth. New York took Texas A&M’s Kelsey Bone fifth and then two picks later drafted Oklahoma State’s Toni Young.

Seattle, which will be without Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird this season because of injuries, took Maryland’s Tianna Hawkins in between.

The Storm added Chelsea Poppens, a 6-2 forward from Iowa State, in the second round and Jasmine James, a 5-9 guard from Georgia, in the third.

The Minnesota Lynx took Nebraska guard Lindsey Moore, a Tacoma native from Kentwood High School, with the 12th and final pick in the first round.

WNBA’S NEXT GROUP OF STARS

The top six selections in the WNBA draft Monday:

PlayerWNBA teamPos.HeightCollege

Brittney GrinerMercuryC6-8Baylor

Elena Delle DonneSkyG/F6-5Delaware

Skylar DigginsShockG5-9Notre Dame

Tayler HillMysticsG5-10Ohio State

Kelsey BoneLibertyC6-4Texas A&M

Tianna HawkinsStormF6-3Maryland

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