Mercury Take Prahalis in First Round of Draft

Posted: April 13, 2012

The Phoenix Mercury selected Ohio State point guard Samantha Prahalis sixth overall in the 2012 WNBA Draft today, making her the first Mercury selection in the first round since DeWanna Bonner was taken fifth overall in 2009. Arkansas guard C’eira Ricketts (24th overall, second round), Missouri forward Christine Flores (30th, third round) and Oregon forward Amanda Johnson (33rd, third round) rounded out Phoenix’s selections.

Prahalis, the 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year, was widely regarded as the best point guard available in this year’s draft. At 5-7, she averaged 19.8 points per game her senior season, but caught the nation’s attention with her 6.3 assist average and ability to make plays in the open court. She finished her career as the Big Ten’s all-time leader in assists with 901 and was one of just two Division I players to record at least 2,000 points and 900 assists in a career (Courtney Vandersloot).

“Samantha fits our system well,” Head Coach and General Manager Corey Gaines said. “I think the way we play and our style really suits her and she suits us. Her motor is high and she loves playing basketball. She definitely has the tools to become a great player in our league.”

“I’m extremely excited and thankful to be picked sixth,” Prahalis said. “This is one team’s style that fits my style best. I like to play up-tempo, run-and-gun and pass the ball. Style-wise I think this is a great, great fit.”

As a senior Prahalis was selected to the AP All-America Second Team and was a finalist for the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Lieberman Award.

Adding to its list of point guards, the Mercury selected Ricketts in the second round with the 24th overall pick. As a senior, Ricketts, averaged 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game leading the Razorbacks to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003. Ricketts finished her career ranked seventh on Arkansas’ career scoring list with 1,537 points, third in assists (516), 10th in rebounding (664) and first with 320 career steals.

In the third round, Phoenix turned to the interior selecting 6-3 forward Flores and 6-1 forward Johnson. Flores averaged 16.9 points and 7.8 rebounds as a senior at the University of Missouri and was named All-Big 12 Second Team after ranking second in the conference in scoring and blocks, trailing only Brittney Griner in both categories.

Johnson joins the Mercury from the University of Oregon where she played under former Mercury Head Coach Paul Westhead. She scored 18.0 points and grabbed 9.6 rebounds per game last season.

The Mercury begins training camp on Sunday, April 29, featuring a preseason matchup with the Japan National Team on May 8 at US Airways Center.

Phoenix opens the 2012 season on the road against defending-champion Minnesota on May 20. Tipoff is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Phoenix time and will be nationally televised on ABC.

The Mercury makes its home debut on May 26 against the Los Angeles Sparks, who selected Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford) first overall in today’s draft. That game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at US Airways Center.

Single-game tickets for the 2012 season went on sale today and can be purchased by calling 602-252-WNBA or visiting phoenixmercury.com