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ND Women’s Basketball

Loyd selected first by Seattle Storm in WNBA Draft

| Friday, April 17, 2015

One last time, Jewell Loyd made Notre Dame history, one year earlier than expected.

When Loyd’s name was called by the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Draft at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Thursday, she became the first No. 1 pick in program history. She also became the first player from the Irish to ever leave for the pro ranks before her senior season.

“It’s a great feeling to have your name called and to look up and see the number one by your name,” Loyd said. “Hard work does pay off.”

WNBA President Laurel Richie poses with Jewel Loyd after she was selected number one overall by the Seattle Storm during the 2015 WNBA Draft Presented By State Farm on April 16, 2015 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)Photo courtesy of Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Former Irish guard Jewell Loyd poses with WNBA President Laurel Richie after Loyd was selected first overall by the Seattle Storm during the 2015 WNBA Draft on April 16 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Just a day after Notre Dame lost to Connecticut in the NCAA title game for the second straight year in Tampa, Florida, Loyd announced she would forgo her final year of eligibility to play in the WNBA. She told Irish head coach Muffet McGraw and her teammates in the hours after that loss but said she knew she would leave Notre Dame before the defeat.

“My family has been prepared for a situation like this for a long time,” Loyd said. “It was the right timing for me, and everything set it up really well.

“I had to figure out what was best for me, and it just sucks that it was after that game, but at that point, I didn’t have much of a choice.”

Loyd ended her Notre Dame career fifth on the all-time scoring list, second in career points per game and tied for first in program history for highest scoring game, with 41 points against DePaul on Dec. 10 this season. She was named All-American twice, one of four Irish players to accomplish the feat.

She is also the fourth straight Irish player selected in the top three of the WNBA Draft — Devereaux Peters, Skylar Diggins and Kayla McBride were taken third in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively. With Loyd’s selection, Notre Dame becomes the first program in the 19-year history of the draft to have a player selected as a lottery pick (top four) in four straight years.

The Storm finished tied for the worst record in the WNBA last year (12-22) and was the worst offensive team in the league, averaging 70.88 points per game.

“They need some help on the offensive side,” Loyd said. “Obviously you have to play defense too, but … I can bring that other part of the game too.”

Seattle loaded up on talent Thursday night with the first and third picks of the draft. Two slots after Loyd, Seattle took former Connecticut forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, putting the two college rivals on the same side after three years of head-to-head competition.

“I love playing with Kaleena,” Loyd said. “She’s a great sport. … She brings a lot of fun, and we’ve been friends on and off the court for quite a while, and I’m excited to officially become her teammate.”

Loyd’s salary in the WNBA is expected to average around $50,000 in her first few years, with the potential of more money coming abroad, as many players travel to Europe or Asia, where salaries are higher. Loyd said she has not made a decision about whether she will play outside the WNBA.

Loyd was not the only non-senior to be taken in the first round Thursday. Former Minnesota center Amanda Zahui B., who just finished her sophomore season, was taken second overall by the Tulsa Shock. This draft marks the first time in WNBA history multiple non-seniors were selected.

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

Contact Greg