Breanna Stewart top pick in WNBA, leading 1-2-3 UConn sweep

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Friday, April 15, 2016

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Breanna Stewart led a UConn sweep of the first three picks in the WNBA draft, going first overall to the Seattle Storm on Thursday night.

Moriah Jefferson went second to San Antonio and Morgan Tuck third to Connecticut, the first time in draft history in which three players from the same school went 1-2-3. It's never happened in any major sport, according to information provided to the WNBA by the Elias Sports Bureau.

"When you look at our senior class, it speaks for itself going one, two, three,'' Stewart said. "Lots of comparisons between past UConn teams and this one, when we do things that make history, that's saying it all.''

The WNBA has had two of the first three players come from the same school on three separate occasions. In 2002, UConn was close to sweeping the first three picks; the Huskies had players taken first, second, fourth and sixth.

"We're sisters for sure,'' Jefferson said. "I heard her name and I stopped, started clapping. I got so emotional. To go through the journey the way we have and make history on the college level and history here, it's unbelievable. I can't think of anything being any better.''

Seattle had the top pick for the second straight season and, as expected, drafted the versatile, 6-foot-4 Stewart, the consensus national player of the year the past two seasons, on Thursday as the draft got underway at Mohegan Sun.

When her name was called by new WNBA president Lisa Borders, Stewart hugged UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who was sitting at her table. She then gave a hug to Jefferson and Tuck; Stewart's other former UConn teammates applauded from the crowd at Mohegan Sun. It was the third straight season that the draft was held at the home of the Connecticut Sun. There was a loud crowd on hand to cheer on the former Huskies and draft picks.

Stewart is the fifth UConn player selected with the No. 1 overall pick, joining Maya Moore (2011), Tina Charles (2010), Diana Taurasi (2004) and Sue Bird (2002).

Stewart and Bird now become teammates in Seattle, which selected Notre Dame's Jewell Loyd at No. 1 overall last season. The Storm reached the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons from 2004-13 -- winning the WNBA title in 2004 and 2010 -- but have failed to reach the postseason in each of the past two seasons. Lauren Jackson, who Seattle drafted with the No. 1 pick in 2001 but hadn't played for the team since 2012, recently announced her retirement.

Stewart averaged 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.4 blocks per game as a senior. She is UConn's all-time leader in blocks (414) and ranks second in scoring (2,676 points). Stewart is the only player in NCAA history to reach 300 career blocks and 300 career assists, and the only player to be selected Final Four most outstanding player four times.

Stewart, Jefferson and Tuck -- who redshirted all but eight games of the 2013-14 season and decided to forego her final season of college eligibility -- led UConn to four NCAA titles, 151 wins and an NCAA tournament-record 24 consecutive wins in their four seasons in Storrs, Connecticut.

Rachel Banham went fourth to Connecticut. The Minnesota guard tied the NCAA record this season with 60 points in a game.

"I'm beyond excited to be here in Connecticut,'' Banham said. "The fan base here is incredible.''

Michigan State's Aerial Powers went fifth to Dallas while George Washington's Jonquel Jones was picked sixth by Los Angeles. Soon after getting drafted, Jones was traded to Connecticut for Chelsea Gray and the Sun's No. 1 draft pick next year. The teams also traded a few picks in the second and third rounds of Thursday's draft.

"Got to adapt and make changes,'' Jones said moments after being dealt to the Sun.

Rutgers' Kahleah Copper was drafted seventh by Washington. South Florida's Courtney Williams went eighth to Phoenix. South Carolina's Tiffany Mitchell was picked ninth by Indiana.

Texas center Imani Boyette went 10th to Chicago and could be the first daughter of a WNBA player to make a roster. Her mom, Pamela McGee, was the No. 2 pick in the 1997 draft and played for Sacramento and the Los Angeles Sparks. Yolanda Griffith's daughter, Alicia DeVaughn, attended training camps in 2014 and 2015 but didn't make the regular-season roster.

"It's a lot to know that I can do the same thing my mom did,'' Boyette said. "Hopefully, in a better way. I'm blessed to be here. I watched a lot of WNBA growing up. ... I'm excited that it's my turn to be the one getting watched.''

Atlanta took West Virginia's Bria Holmes with the 11th pick. She is the first native of Connecticut to be drafted. New York closed out the first round by drafting Florida State's Adut Bulgak.

The league's 20th anniversary season will tip off on May 14. Training camps open April 24.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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