The Phoenix Mercury won the WNBA draft lottery on Wednesday.
“Obviously we’re really excited. It means a lot to our fans, it means a lot to our organization,” President and COO Amber Cox said. “We’re just really excited and kind of speechless at the moment.
The Mercury will pick first in next year’s draft and could very well target the AP Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year, Baylor’s Brittney Griner.
The 6’8″ center helped lead Baylor to a perfect 40-0 record and a national championship. Griner averaged 23 points, nine rebounds and five blocks last season.
In 2012, the Mercury had the second-worst record in the league at 7-27. They were believed to have a 28 percent chance of landing the first overall pick.
Phoenix suffered a rash of injuries that cost them star player Diana Taurasi for eight games, Candice Dupree for 21 and Penny Taylor for the season.
Head coach Corey Gaines said the team’s unconventional philosophy will stay the same, regardless of who the team selects.
“We’re not a prototypical team, and we’re definitely a team who has won some championships not doing it the traditional way,” Gaines said. “We’re not a traditional team by any means, and we’ve always gone and done things the way we want to do them and it’s not what you’re taught to do — I was taught this by coach Paul Westhead, so we’re not changing that.”
This is the third time the Mercury have had the first pick in the WNBA draft. The other two times were in 2004, when they selected Taurasi from University of Connecticut, and in 2007 when they traded the pick.
The WNBA lottery was broadcast on ESPN live for the first time this year.