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2022 WNBA Draft a success as stars of the Future Selected

 Two-time SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard of Kentucky tonight was selected by the Atlanta Dream with the first overall pick of WNBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm®, which returned to an in-person event for the first time since 2019 and was held at the acclaimed Spring Studios, located in the Tribeca section of New York.

Howard, a three-time AP All-America First Team selection, averaged 20.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a senior.  In each of the past three seasons, she was a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award as the nation’s top guard and the Cheryl Miller Award as the best small forward.  Howard led the Wildcats to its first SEC Tournament title since 1982, upsetting No. 1-ranked South Carolina, as she received the MVP award for the tournament.  Atlanta acquired Howard after acquiring the first pick in the WNBA Draft through a trade with the Washington Mystics for the No. 3 and No. 14 overall picks.

With the No. 2 overall pick, the Indiana Fever selected Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith.  The two-time Big 12 Player of the Year was a finalist for the Naismith Women’s National Player of the Year after averaging 22.1 points and 11.5 rebounds, both of which led the Big 12.  The senior won back-to-back Katrina McClain Awards as the nation’s top power forward and set a Baylor record with 25 double-doubles this season, which ranked third in the nation.

With the third pick, the Mystics selected Shakira Austin of Ole Miss.  A two-time All-America Honorable Mention, the center was a semifinalist for the Lisa Leslie Award as the nation’s best center each of the last two seasons.  Austin led Ole Miss in scoring, rebounding and blocks per game for the second consecutive season and was on the 2022 John R. Wooden Award ballot for the nation’s top player.

The Fever used the fourth pick to select forward Emily Engstler of Louisville.  A transfer from Syracuse, the Queens, N.Y. native was a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award as the nation’s best small forward and a semifinalist for the Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year award.  The senior led the ACC in steals (2.7 spg) and was third in rebounding (6.7 rpg) and was an All-ACC First Team and All-Defensive Team selection. 

With the fifth pick, the New York Liberty, selected Nyara Sabally of Oregon.  The two-time All-Pac-12 selection was a finalist for the 2021-22 Katrina McClain Award while leading Oregon in scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg).  The German native is the younger sister of Satou Sabally, who was the second-overall selection by the Dallas Wings in the 2020 WNBA Draft.

The Fever used the sixth and 10th picks – its third and fourth selections of the first round – on guard Lexie Hull of Stanford and center Queen Egbo of Baylor, making Indiana the first team in WNBA history to make four picks in the first round.  Hull, a three-time All-Pac-12 Team selection and two-time Pac-12 All-Defensive Team pick, helped lead Stanford to the Final Four while leading the team in steals.  A two-time finalist for the Lisa Leslie Award as the nation’s best center (2020, 2021), Egbo averaged 11.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game this season and helped Baylor win the national title as a freshman.

With the seventh pick, the Dallas Wings selected Northwestern guard Veronica Burton.  The four-time Big Ten steals leader was an AP All-America Third Team selection this season and a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the best Division I point guard.  Burton is only the second woman to earn three Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, along with current Atlanta Dream coach Tanisha Wright.

The Las Vegas Aces used the eighth and 12th picks of the first round on Colorado forward Mya Hollingshed and Florida Gulf Coast guard Kierstan Bell.  Hollingshed, a fifth-year senior and three-time All-Pac-12 selection, was All-Pac-12 First Team in 2022 while leading Colorado in scoring and rebounding.  Bell is a two-time winner of the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award and was an AP All-America Honorable Mention selection the last two seasons.

At No. 9, the Los Angeles Sparks chose Rae Burrell of Tennessee.  The senior from Las Vegas earned 2022 All-Tournament Team honors and was an All-SEC Second Team pick in 2021.

With the 12th pick, the Connecticut Sun selected Nia Clouden of Michigan State.  A two-time All-Big Ten First Team selection, the senior guard set a Michigan State single-game record with 50 points this season and was a semifinalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation’s best point guard.

In the second round, the Mystics selected guard Christyn Williams at No. 14, the first of three Connecticut players selected in the round, alongside guard Evina Westbrook to Seattle and forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa to Los Angeles.  The Storm traded the draft rights to No. 18 pick Lorela Cubaj of Georgia Tech to the Liberty for New York’s 2023 second-round pick.  The Fever made its fifth overall selection of the draft with the 20th pick, selecting guard Destanni Henderson, who led South Carolina to a national championship win over Connecticut with a game-high 26 points.

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