Rookie Q+A with Toni Young

With the #7 pick in the WNBA draft the Liberty selected Toni Young from Oklahoma State. took a moment to get to know and introduce Toni to her new Liberty family.

What have your days been like post WNBA draft?
Not too bad. I'm back in school now but I planned ahead for the draft and finished all of my classes in advance. I've already graduated and I'm just waiting to leave for training camp. I spend each day practicing with my strength and conditioning coach.

How busy were you at rookie orientation?
I got in April 11th at 2:00 am. There was a five-hour delay so it was a long day of travel. Once we got in we had meetings all day, every day, from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. We did that from the 11th to the 14th and then the 15th was the day of the actual draft. We had meetings on finance, etiquette and talks with players, coaches and different speakers. It was a lot. I couldn't even tell you everything. It was a lot of great information but also somewhat overwhelming.

How did you pick out your outfit for the draft?
On the day of the draft they did player photo shoots and helped us get ready with makeup artists and stylists. I think Lebron James' stylist came in to help us with clothing and accessories. I like the look of a bowtie and picked one out to help dress my outfit up.

What were your expectations coming into the draft?
I had no clue what to expect. I was relieved to be invited to the draft. I said to myself, "wow, I'm really here with all the top players around the country." Still, they told us that being invited is not a guarantee that you're going to be drafted in the first round. So to be drafted so high and by the New York Liberty was amazing. I was so happy.

What else do you take interest in besides basketball?
I'm interested in becoming an under cover agent. I majored in education but would have also enjoyed a major in criminal justice; however, our school does not offer that course study. When I was growing up I loved to watch CSI and other shows like that. I couldn't get enough.

When did you set the goal to play in the WNBA?
I set that goal my junior year of college. Before that I wasn't sure if I was good enough to make it. But once I saw that I could, I made it a goal to get invited to the draft.

You started playing basketball in high school, how has your progression been?
I started playing basketball my sophomore year of high school. I still have a lot of growing to do as a player. I haven't hit my max potential. Each year I try to add something new.

What are your strengths? What are you working on?
My strengths are rebounding and my 15-foot jump shot. I'd like to add a transition three-point shot to my game. I believe that if I put the work in I can be whatever this team needs.

What was your first impression of Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer?
His personality caught my attention. You can tell he cares a lot about the game but isn't over protective. He doesn't babysit. He just wants to make you better and make sure you are playing the game right. I liked him.

Have any of the other Liberty players reached out to you?
Plenette Pierson commented on my photo on Instagram saying welcome to the team. She told me that we're going to compete in practice like we are on different teams but at the end of the day we are teammates and that she is happy to have me join the team.

There is a lot of attention being paid to this year's draft class. How do you handle it?
I'm excited about the attention this year's draft class is getting. We're all hungry and we want to see how far each of us will go over the course of our careers.

There are only 11 spots on a WNBA roster, what do you think you have to prove, if anything, during training camp?
The coaches already know your game. I just want to come out and be consistent. There is a reason they used their second pick on me so I want to make the most of the opportunity.

After you were drafted you did a lot of retweeting messages of congratulations on Twitter. Were there any messages that stood out to you?
(Laughs) I didn't even get to read all of the tweets but I just wanted people to know that I saw the support. One Liberty fan tweeted that they were happy to have me in New York and welcomed me.

You played for Oklahoma State during the time of the tragic loss of then head coach Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna in a plane crash. How did coach Budke impact your basketball career?
Coach Budke and I were very close. He was the reason I decided to play at Oklahoma State. After the plane crash I promised myself I would get better and prove I was capable of playing in the WNBA. Coach Budke told me I could do it and I wanted to prove him right. They believed in me. I honestly believe that if it weren't for them I wouldn't be here today. After he passed away I started to buckle down in school and worked harder. I wasn't taking school seriously but that was a turning point for me.

On a day off where can you be found?
Back home with my family. Or if I'm in the city you can find me shopping at the mall. I love to shop.

You are an Oklahoma native. New York City is quite different than Oklahoma. How do you feel about coming out to the Big Apple?
I'm excited to experience something different. I've always been in small cities and I know everything is big in New York. I heard there is a Jordan Store in New York. I'm excited about that. I love shoes. I have a lot of them and I haven't worn any of them much more than a few times.