ND Women’s Basketball
McBride, Achonwa both selected in top 10
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, April 14, 2014
Two former Notre Dame stars had a short wait before they heard their names called Monday night, as Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa were both among the top 10 players selected in the WNBA Draft, held in Uncasville, Conn.
McBride, an All-American guard and national player of the year candidate, was taken with the third overall pick by the San Antonio Stars. Achonwa, a forward and third-team All-American, was taken ninth by the Indiana Fever, who advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2013. McBride and Achonwa are the fourth and fifth Irish players to be selected in the first round in the past three years.
McBride was projected by most experts to be a top-five pick but came off the board earlier than expected and ahead of Maryland forward Alyssa Thomas, who beat out McBride for ACC Player of the Year this season, as voted by the media. ACC coaches selected McBride for their player of the year award.The Stars finished 2013 with a 12-22 record and ranked 10th out of 12 teams in field-goal percentage, hitting 40 percent of their shots. McBride leaves Notre Dame with a career field-goal percentage of 47.5 percent. She also averaged 16.75 points per game in her final two seasons for the Irish. The Stars were led in scoring last season by forward Danielle Adams, who averaged 14.4 points per game.
Achonwa’s pre-draft stock was up in the air after she tore her left ACL during Notre Dame’s Elite Eight win over Baylor on March 31, but the Fever, who acquired the ninth pick from the Phoenix Mercury, selected the six-foot-three forward anyway. Achonwa, a captain for the Irish, led Notre Dame in rebounding and was third in points this season.
Indiana also held the fifth pick in the draft and chose Florida State forward Natasha Howard, bolstering its frontcourt after ranking second-to-last in the league in points and rebounds per game last season. Howard and Achonwa were both all-ACC selections.Less than a week after Connecticut defeated Notre Dame in the national championship in Nashville, Tenn., the Irish and Huskies were evenly represented in the first round. Center Stefanie Dolson and guard Bria Hartley were drafted back-to-back with the sixth and seventh picks by the Washington Mystics and Seattle Storm, respectively. The Storm then traded Hartley and second-year forward Tianna Hawkins to Washington in exchange for All-Star forward/center Crystal Langhorne.
McBride joins former teammates Skylar Diggins and Devereaux Peters as the highest-selected players in program history. In 2012, Peters was selected by the Minnesota Lynx, and Diggins was taken by the Tulsa Shock last year as part of one of the deepest draft classes in WNBA history. Peters won a WNBA championship in 2013 with the Lynx, and Diggins was named to the WNBA all-rookie team following her first-year campaign.
Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike was selected first overall in this year’s draft by the Connecticut Sun, followed by Baylor guard Odyssey Sims in the second spot to the Tulsa Shock, where she will join Diggins in the backcourt.
Former forward Ariel Braker was the only Irish senior who went undrafted on the night. The three seniors leave Notre Dame after making four straight Final Fours and posting a 138-15 career record.