ND Women’s Basketball
Brianna Turner lands in Phoenix as No. 11 pick in WNBA Draft
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, April 11, 2019
Irish graduate student forward Brianna Turner was selected as the No. 11 picked in the first round of the WNBA Draft by the Atlanta Dream, but the Phoenix Mercury traded for her draft rights, landing her in a camp among legends, including Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.
By being selected in the first round, Turner marked the first time Notre Dame has ever had three first-round picks. The Irish were also the only program this season to have three first-round picks.
While Turner’s Notre Dame career was riddled with injuries, from shoulder surgeries to an ACL tear that kept her out for her senior year, she made an immense comeback in her fifth year. Ultimately, the 6-foot-3 forward proved herself as both an offensive and a defensive presence on the court. She was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year three times: in 2016, in 2017 and again in 2019 and was named to the All-ACC Defensive Team four times.
Turner finished out her career at Notre Dame with a 0.616 field-goal percentage. She also put in a dedicated effort to improve her free-throw shooting this season, bringing up her percentage to 70.2% this year, from just over 61% in her previous seasons.
However, where Turner really set herself apart at Notre Dame was on the defensive side of the court. She finished her career at Notre Dame as the all-time rebounds leader and, as of the culmination of the national semifinal game, the all-time blocks leader for the Irish, beating out Ruth Riley, who had held the record since her graduation in 2001. She became just the third Notre Dame player with 80 blocks in a season as a freshman, joining Riley and Shari Matvey.
As a freshman, Turner earned a place on the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team, averaging nearly 16 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. She also recorded 10 double-doubles that season. As a sophomore, Turner was troubled with a shoulder injury, missing six games as a result. However, she started the other 29 games she played. She led the ACC in field-goal percentage and in blocked shots. Three of her five double-doubles as a sophomore came in the postseason, one in the ACC tournament and two in the NCAA tournament, proving her ability to perform on the biggest stages. As a junior, Turner started in all 35 games and led the ACC in field-goal percentage and blocks once again. She also recorded seven double-doubles. However, her career also took a turn when she tore her left ACL in the second round of the NCAA tournament, against Purdue.
Turner took off her senior year to rehab her knee and became one of the “tore four,” the four Irish players who tore their ACLs that season. However, she returned in full force as a graduate student. She scored a season-high 24 points against North Carolina in March and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds and five blocks against UConn in the national semifinal on April 5. Those five blocks also allowed propelled her past Riley for the all-time Notre Dame blocks record.
As a graduate student, she averaged 0.632 field-goal percentage and 7.8 rebounds per game. She also posted 109 blocks, 43 steals and scored 559 points, averaging 14.3 points per game.
At 6-foot-3, Turner will likely be listed as a center on her WNBA roster.