Uncasville, Conn. — The clock struck 7 p.m. in Uncasville, Conn., and the minutes began ticking for the Seattle Storm to make a potentially franchise-changing decision. Within moments, the Storm’s rebuilding phase got a kickstart.
Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd is headed to Seattle as the top pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft. Loyd, who entered the draft as a junior just hours after the NCAA Championship game, immediately becomes the heir-apparent to perennial All-Star Sue Bird.
“It’s something that we’ve all dreamed about since we started playing the game of basketball,” Loyd said. “To be here, to sit and see everyone in the stands, it’s so humbling.”
The Storm had a choice between two early entrants – Loyd and Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B. – who have the chance to be franchise cornerstones. In the end, the Storm opted for a talented guard in Loyd, a player who brings the ability to make an immediate impact for a team that struggled in 2014.
She’ll now be in a position to play alongside Bird, who’s in a position to mentor what looks to be a younger roster in the Emerald City in 2015. But Loyd says she’s ready for the opportunity and wants to add to an already well-rounded game.
“I think more point guard abilities,” Loyd said when asked what she’s looking to add to her skillset. “I think I have them – I know I have them – but just being able to make better decisions. That comes with growing of the game and learning how to play with bigger and stronger players. So, that’s all going to be a process.”
Tulsa takes Zahui B.
The Tulsa Shock knew it would be in a position to draft from a host of talented players ready to make an impact in 2015. And when the time came for head coach Fred Williams team to make a decision, it was Minnesota center Amanda Zahui B. who heard her name called.
The 6-foot-5 talent from Stockholm, Sweden, joins an already talented, young core of players in Tulsa.
“Unreal. People tell you stuff but you really don’t know until you hear your name. It’s crazy,” Zahui B. said of the moment she heard her name called.
How Zahui B. got to that moment was part of a larger story heading into the draft. An early entrant along with No. 1 pick Jewell Loyd, Zahui B. chose to forego her final two years of college eligibility for a chance to play professionally.
“It’s been really exciting,” she said of the weeks leading up to the draft. “It’s been a lot going on, but it’s such a blessing. I can’t believe it.”
Zahui B. joins a Tulsa team that boasts one of the league’s most dynamic stars in Skylar Diggins, who spoke with Zahui B. earlier in the week. She told the incoming rookie she hoping the Shock would select her with the No. 2 pick.
“I want to bring excitement to that team,” Zahui B. said. “They have great players, like young players, and I’m ready to go be a big presence inside. We’re a team now. We’ve got to rise together and I’m really excited. I got the chance to talk to Skylar [Diggins] earlier this week, so you know I’m ready to go.”
Mosqueda-Lewis join Loyd in Seattle
Just weeks after knocking off Notre Dame in the NCAA women’s Final Four championship game, Connecticut’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is now a teammate with a familiar opponent. She joins Notre Dame guard Jewell Loyd in Seattle. Mosqueda-Lewis was chosen with the No. 3 pick in Thursday night’s WNBA Draft.
“Just to be here and to be a part of this is just incredible in itself, but also to have all the supporters of the people here in Connecticut made it even better,” Mosqueda-Lewis said.
The NCAA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals now joins a Seattle team that’s in a rebuilding phase. But Thursday night it added two talented pieces to help as it tries to expedite that process.
Mosqueda-Lewis’ Connecticut squads played Loyd’s Notre Dame teams three consecutive years in the Final Four, but now the duo will take the court in the WNBA as teammates. Loyd in a position to create open looks for Mosqueda-Lewis in the coming years.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I think me and Jewell are going to make a great pair, and I’m glad she’s my teammate now.”
“I’ve been able to speak a little bit to Coach Jenny [Boucek], and she’s awesome. Where she wants to take this program, where she wants to take her players to the next level is definitely something that I want to be a part of.”