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Storm Selects Tianna Hawkins

April 15, 2013

The Seattle Storm wanted more than just size when they went to the board in the WNBA Draft. Coach and general manager Brian Agler also wanted versatility.

He found both in Tianna Hawkins and made the 6-3 forward from Maryland the Storm’s first-round choice on Monday night.

Hawkins was one of several quality players still available when Seattle went on the clock for the No. 6 overall selection.

“She has a great work ethic and she gives us some size,” Agler said. “We like versatile post players and we feel like she’s the best one in the draft this year and even in next year’s draft in regards to her versatility.”

The Storm, heading into the season without 6-5 veteran Lauren Jackson (out for the season after hamstring surgery) and 6-4 Ann Wauters (not playing for personal reasons), needed some size and also went that direction with its second-round pick. Seattle chose 6-2 forward Chelsea Poppens of Iowa State at No. 18 overall.

Tianna Hawkins
Photo via NBAE/Getty Images

Tianna Hawkins was selected as the No. 6 pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft.

The Storm went smaller in the third and final round, tabbing 5-9 guard Jasmine James of Georgia.

Hawkins averaged 18.3 points and 9.5 rebounds this past season and was relied upon even more by the Terrapins after they lost four players to injuries – a group that included both starting guards.

“I was the only senior on the team, so my teammates and coaches were looking to me to step up,” Hawkins said after being chosen. “It took some time to get used to that.”

But Hawkins clearly did get used to it. She led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring and ranked No. 2 in rebounding. Hawkins also runs the floor well and the combination of all three of those qualities made her especially attractive to the Storm.

“We’ve just found that post players who can stretch the defense really help our offense,” Agler said. “We feel like she can do that for us.”

That’s exactly what Hawkins is looking forward to doing in Seattle.

“(The fans) are going to see the aggressive side of Tianna Hawkins,” she said. “They’re going to see someone who loves to rebound at both ends and likes to shoot and battle.”

Thanks in large part to Hawkins’ play, Maryland went 26-8 overall, 14-4 in the ACC. The Terps advanced all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Hawkins was an All-ACC first-team selection after being a second-teamer in 2012.

During her 2011-12 junior season, Hawkins led the nation in field goal shooting at 62.3%. She shot 54.9% as a senior and wound up at 57.8% for her career.

Even in that area, her versatility stood out to Agler.

“This year, (her shooting) was affected a little bit because her team was really hindered by injuries,” he said. “She had to do things a little bit differently. She has played a little more away from the basket this year than she has in the past and took more 3-point shots. (She was 8 of 29 after shooing just twice from downtown as a junior.)

“At the same time, she has the ability to hit some 3s, and I think she’ll get better in that area, as well,” Agler added. “She has a nice soft touch.”

Hawkins has never been to the Pacific Northwest, and throughout Monday, had no idea she’d be coming that way.

“I’m really excited that I’m going out to the West Coast,” she said. “I grew up outside of Washington, D.C., and I’ve been to Phoenix, but that’s it.”

With Seattle in the rugged Western Conference, Hawkins will see the likes of fellow draftees Brittney Griner (No. 1 to Phoenix) and Skylar Diggins (No. 3 to Tulsa) numerous times during the 34-game season – not to mention the likes of Diana Taurasi of Phoenix and Candace Parker of Los Angeles, and Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore of Minnesota, among others.

“It’s going to be very testing to see how much it’s going to take for me to get in there and compete against some of the best players in the world,” Hawkins said. “I heard about (Griner and Diggins) all four years in college, so I’m just happy to get out there and play against them.”

Poppens led Iowa State to the Big 12 Tournament title game against Griner’s Baylor team. She ranked 12th in conference scoring at 13.4 points per game, third in rebounding at 9.7, shot .504 from the field and .837 from the free throw line.

James helped Georgia get to the Elite 8 of this year's NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs edged Stanford in the Sweet 16, as James pumped in a team-high 16 points, handed out five assists and came up with three steals. She finished among Georgia’s all-time top 10 in steals.

Agler was generally pleased with how things went on Monday.

“I think we addressed some of our needs, adding size and athleticism with Tianna and Chelsea,” he said. “We have a unique year coming up not having Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson. I think the personality of our team will change a little bit. … We feel like we’ll have a very competitive training camp.”

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