Vandersloot Vaults to Being Taken Third Overall

Bristol, Conn. -- Courtney Vandersloot had an idea she’d be selected in the first round of the 2011 WNBA Draft. To go number three, however, came as a bit of a surprise.

“I did hear Chicago was the highest I would go,” Vandersloot said. “That seemed so out of reach though.

The Chicago Sky grabbed the Gonzaga guard to round out the top three. Maya Moore went first-overall to the Minnesota Lynx, while Aussie native Liz Cambage was taken second by the Tulsa Shock.

Vandersloot heads to Chicago fresh off of guiding the Zags to their first Elite Eight appearance. The 22-year-old led the nation in assists for a second straight year on her way to picking up the Nancy Lieberman Award, handed out to the top Division I point guard. Perhaps the most impressive accolade in 2011, however, was when Vandersloot became the first college basketball player of either gender to amass 2,000 points and 1,000 assists.

“Let’s make no mistake about it,” Bulldogs coach Kelly Graves said. “She’s the engine that really drives the car. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of really good players. Today, everybody gets to know just how special she is.”

Graves remembers the first time he laid eyes on the 5-foot-8 star in the making. It was an afternoon practice at Kentwood High School (Covington, Wash.), and Vandersloot says she knew the Zags coach was going to be checking her out.

“My high school coach warned me he would be coming to practice,” Vandersloot said. “I was really excited about it because Gonzaga had always been in my sights and I really loved everything about them.”

“I knew right then, not that she’d be here, but that she’d be a really good player for us,” said Graves, who admitted the recruiting process was easy due to her affinity for Gonzaga. “Once Courtney came there we realized how good she was. We changed what we did around her talents; it wasn’t the other way around.”

Graves said he too was surprised that Vandersloot went to the Sky, who many thought would grab forward Amber Harris instead.

“We heard one and two were pretty obvious. We heard it could be anywhere from three to seven. We heard from every coach. It was a little shocking when it first happened. We’re not in this situation that often at Gonzaga.”

Vandersloot is the second Bulldog selected in the WNBA Draft. In 2010, former teammate Vivian Frieson was taken by the Shock in the third round. Frieson was cut in the preseason. Vandersloot, however, is all but assured a spot on the Sky’s opening day roster. She’ll join a roster that includes guards Jia Perkins, Epiphanny Prince, Dominique Canty, forward Shameka Christon and center Sylvia Fowles.

Although Vandersloot doesn’t know everything about the Windy City, there’s plenty of time for that. Just like draft day, the unknown can sometimes be the most interesting scenario.

“I’ve learned a lot about them in the last couple of weeks,” she said. “You just never know what happens on draft day and that’s the best part about it."

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