In the first round the Liberty selected forwards Kelsey Bone (5th overall) and Toni Young (7th overall) in addition to guards Kamiko Williams (15th overall), St. John’s product Shenneika Smith (25th overall) and Olcay Cakir (27th overall).
“We are very excited about this draft class,” said Laimbeer. “We were able to select every player we targeted and I think they are all excited to play for the New York Liberty. Kelsey brings physical size and a toughness factor. Toni has tremendous athleticism and will fit right in with our up-tempo style of play. Kamiko is a very patient player; she sees the floor well and understands how to play basketball.”
Bone, a 6-4 center from Texas A&M, averaged 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds-per-game in two seasons with the Aggies. A Houston, TX-native she began her career at South Carolina, playing one season before transferring. As a rookie, she led the conference in rebounding with 9.2 boards-per-game was eighth in scoring with 14.0 points-per-game.
Yong, a 6-2 forward from Oklahoma State University, averaged 12.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 132 games. A Del City, Oklahoma-native, Young earned WBCA All-Region honors in 2013. She twice led the Big 12 Conference in the rebounding average and was second in double-doubles.
Williams, a 5-11 guard from the University of Tennessee, averaged 5.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 128 games. A native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Williams scored a career-best 7.4 points while grabbing 4.2 rebounds as a senior.
Smith who is familiar to fans of the College Sports Scene in New York is a 6-1 forward from St. John’s University. Shenneika who is known for her sharp shooting for the Red Storm averaged 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds in 128 games. A native of Queens, New York,
Smith led the Red Storm in scoring in each of her final three seasons, and finished her career ranked third, fourth and fifth in the school history in blocks, scoring and rebounding. Shenneika was a three-time All-BIG EAST honoree, including a pair of first team selections.
Smith joined her teammate Nadirah McKenith in becoming the first-ever WNBA draft picks from the St. John’s women’s basketball program. McKenith was picked by the Washington Mystics with their 17th overall draft pick.
“This was an extraordinary night for two of our young ladies, Nadirah and Shenneika, who became the first-ever WNBA draft picks in our program history,” remarked St. John’s University head coach Joe Tartamella. “It was also a special night for our community and women’s basketball program as a whole and I couldn’t be prouder of these two young ladies. I have had the opportunity to not only watch these two play as young players in high school, but also be someone who was able to recruit them over time, and then to become their head coach as well. It is something special to me and I really have a lot of pride that I was able to watch these two young ladies grow up before my eyes. It just shows how special St. John’s is and what our players can be capable of as part of our program.”
Coach Tartamella also had this to say on what Smith can contribute to the Liberty, “Shenneika gets the opportunity to stay home in New York, which is great for her and will be one of the pluses for New York if they do feel that she will be able to contribute to their team. She has obviously been a tremendous scorer for us over time but also can defend and play at multiple positions. They are getting a very versatile and athletic player, who can score the ball; which is always important at the professional level. Her versatility will be her strength and that will be a key factor in getting her on the floor for the Liberty.”
Cakir, a 6-0 guard from Fenerbahce Spor Kulubu, has averaged 7.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 rebounds over the course of her professional career. A native of Izmir, Turkey, Cakir won two Turkish Championships (2011, 2012) as well as the 2013 President’s Cup.
New York will open the 2013 regular season at home on May 31 against the Tulsa Shock at the Prudental Center.