BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — The last time the Seattle Storm drafted No. 1 overall in two straight WNBA drafts, they chose Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird, beginning an era that included 10 straight playoff appearances and two WNBA titles.
Storm coach Jenny Boucek is hoping for similar success after winning the WBNA lottery for second consecutive year Thursday night. She confirmed the team plans to use the top pick to take UConn star Breanna Stewart and pair her with this season’s Rookie of the Year, Jewell Lloyd.READ MORE: Stimulus Check Latest: When Could You See Another Economic Relief Payment?
“Young players that can grow together … is a chance for something really special to take place before all of our very eyes,” Boucek said.
The 6-foot-4 Stewart, who can play all five spots on the floor, led the Huskies to three consecutive national titles and was the national player of the year for two consecutive seasons.
She joked this week that she was torn between watching the lottery, or the season premiere of the ABC show “Grey’s Anatomy,” but was excited by the chance to change the fortunes of a WNBA franchise.
“Wherever I end up going, I hope I provide some extra spark into that arena, to that program,” Stewart said. “I’ll be lucky wherever I end up.”
In Seattle, she also would be reunited with former UConn star Kaleena Mosquada-Lewis, with whom she won all three of her national titles and would play with another former Husky great in Bird.
“A quarter of our team could be UConn players,” said Boucek. “We like that. We’ve had good success with UConn players in the past.”
For just the third time in the draft lottery’s 15-year history, the drawing went according to the odds. But this year, it was conducted under new rules. Those still sent the non-playoff teams to the lottery, but based their chances of getting the top pick on the teams’ records over the past two seasons rather than just one.
Seattle, which had a league-worst 22-46 record during that stretch had a 44.2 percent chance of winning.
San Antonio, which had a 27.6 percent chance at the top pick, will choose second. The Stars put up the worst record this year at 8-26 to finish with a two-year mark of 22-44.READ MORE: Third Stimulus Check: Why Your Next Relief Payment May Not Be $1,400
“I’d drive myself nuts thinking of what-ifs,” said San Antonio coach Dan Hughes. “We got the second pick. That’s going to be a desirable pick. It’s also going to be a pick that other teams will desire a little bit, so the phone will ring too.”
Connecticut, which had a two-year record of 28-40, will get the third pick, and Atlanta (34-34) will pick fourth.
After the lottery picks, Los Angeles is slated to choose fifth, followed by Tulsa, Washington, Phoenix, Indiana, Chicago, Atlanta (from Minnesota) and New York.
South Carolina guard Tiffany Mitchell and Stewart’s teammate, UConn guard Moriah Jefferson, are expected to follow Stewart as top picks in the spring.
Jefferson is from the Dallas area, and said this week it would be nice to go back to Texas or to stay in Connecticut.
“Home would always be good, but wherever I go I’ll be more excited to play and do whatever I can,” she said.
The Sun have had 12 former UConn stars on its roster over the years, and chief executive Mitchell Etess, said he was hoping to beat the odds and land Stewart as the 13th.
“I should know that luck has nothing to do with it,” said Etess, who also is a top executive at the Mohegan Sun casino. “If anybody knows that, I do.”
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