The Phoenix Mercury made what had been a foregone conclusion since September into a reality Monday night, taking Baylor’s Brittney Griner with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft.
The 6-foot-8 center took the women’s game by storm during her four years with the Lady Bears. Griner set NCAA records for most blocks (736) and dunks (18) in a career, and also won two John R. Wooden Awards (best women’s college basketball player) and three Big 12 Player of the Year honors.
As a junior, Griner led Baylor to an undefeated season (40-0) and the second NCAA championship in program history. While the Lady Bears were upset in the Sweet 16 in 2013, the Houston native set career-highs in points (23.6) and assists (2.4) per game. She also scored a career-high 50 points back on March 4 against Kansas State.
Griner is the second player to be taken by the Mercury with the No. 1 overall pick. Back in 2004, Phoenix took Diana Taurasi out of UConn with its first selection. In eight WNBA seasons, Taurasi has won the Most Valuable Player award (2009), five scoring titles and two league championships (2007 and 2009). Taurasi has also represented the Mercury in five All-Star Games.
“I’m ready to get there, I’m ready to just learn from her,” Griner told ESPN about playing with Taurasi. “I got to play with her a little bit with Team USA and I’m just ready to feed off her and give everything I can to the Phoenix Mercury.”
Corey Gaines and Co. will expect Griner to make an instant impact during her rookie season, as the Mercury are coming off their worst season (7-27) in franchise history.