NEW YORK – The 10 WNBA Draft invitees were all smiles on Wednesday as they went through Player Orientation at the league office in New York City. Just one day before their dreams become reality, the players took a moment to reflect on their journey that led to Thursday night’s draft.
For projected No. 1 pick Kelsey Plum, it’s a surreal feeling to be in New York with her family. The California native and former University of Washington star is soaking up everything about the experience, even though she predicted this would happen many, many years ago.
“I told my mom when I was 10 that I was going to play in the WNBA,” Plum said to WNBA.com on Wednesday. “So for that to be a reality, especially with my family able to be here with me, is pretty special.”
Plum and the other nine attendees will make their way to Samsung 837 in downtown New York on Thursday, as the draft begins at 7 p.m. ET with the first round being broadcast on ESPN2. San Antonio owns the first overall pick and will also select in the fifth spot of the first round. Chicago is picking second, while Dallas owns the No. 3 and No. 4 picks in what will be a prime opportunity for each team to stack its roster with young talent.
The 10 prospects in attendance will be accompanied by family, coaches and teammates as they wait to hear their names called. The NCAA champion South Carolina Gamecocks will have three players on hand, including a pair that opted to forego their final year of eligibility and enter the draft as redshirt juniors. Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray join senior Alaina Coates in representing South Carolina at the draft after their historic season.
It has been a wild month for the trio of Gamecocks, who will soon open their first WNBA training camp just 10 days after the draft.
“It’s life hitting you fast,” Davis told WNBA.com. “But it’s amazing. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity. Not only the opportunity to win a national championship, but to get invited to the WNBA Draft and get drafted. So it’s been a whirlwind of the different things going on, but it’s been amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Davis was among the many prospects that said Thursday will undoubtedly be an emotional roller-coaster. The players say they aren’t paying attention to the mock drafts and that they will be grateful no matter which team selects them.
Regardless of the outcome, it will be a special day for the 10 in attendance and 36 total that officially commence their WNBA careers on Thursday.
“I always think back to this little girl who had this huge dream, and had no idea what it was going to take to get there,” said Oregon State guard Sydney Wiese. “So to even be with these other amazing athletes, these women that had the same dream as me, it’s such an honor to be able to achieve the dream that I’ve had for so many years.
“It’s the best women’s basketball league in the world, so it’s a privilege to get drafted and have a chance to contribute to a team.”