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ND Women’s Basketball

Jackie Young declares for WNBA draft

| Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Irish junior guard and All-ACC second team selection — by votes from the league’s Blue Ribbon Panel and head coaches — Jackie Young has declared for the WNBA draft. In a tweet sent out just before 7 p.m. Monday evening, Young announced her decision to forego her senior year and join the professional ranks a year early.

“I would like to thank the University of Notre Dame for providing me with three years of the very best experiences, opportunities and people of a lifetime,” Young said. “After much consideration, I would like to announce that I will be following my heart and living out my childhood dream of playing in the WNBA. I have waited for this day all my life, and I can’t wait to continue this journey.”

Anna Mason | The Observer

Irish junior guard Jackie Young pulls up for a jump shot over a defender in Notre Dame’s 81-76 victory over UConn in the Final Four hosted in Tampa, Florida, on Friday night.

Louisville senior guard and two-time ACC player of the year Asia Durr is now expected to go first overall. Young, though projected just a week ago to be selected with the fifth overall pick by the Dallas Wings, has had her draft stock soar recently to as high as the No. 2 overall selection of the New York Liberty.

Despite only scoring a combined 15 points over the course of Notre Dame’s two Final Four games, Young contributed in other areas with nine rebounds and six assists in the championship game against Baylor along with strong defensive work against tough assignments.

Oregon junior guard, Naismith Award finalist and initially projected overall No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu’s decision to play out her final year of eligibility certainly played a hand in Young’s rise. Another factor may have been the other players first projected ahead of Young — Mississippi State senior center Teaira McCowan and California senior forward Kristine Anigwe — weren’t competing in the Final Four, and there is no pre-draft combine for WNBA prospects to show their skills.

“I think when you play at a high level, you get on TV a lot more. People watch your games a lot more,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said of the importance of playing more to get WNBA recognition. “[Scouts aren’t] just catching one game in the tournament. So I think the media attention is really good because scouts can’t go everywhere across the country all the time to find you, so being on TV I think really helps us.”

Every other Notre Dame starter exhausts their eligibility after this season, and this year’s starting five became the greatest cumulative scoring group in collegiate basketball history, men’s or women’s, with 10,230 combined points. Young would be a much-needed stabilizing force for a depleted Irish roster in which every returning player averages fewer than four points per game.

Although the loss of Young will weigh on Notre Dame, they do have another strong recruiting class for next year with No. 1-ranked forward Samantha Brunelle and No. 4-ranked point guard Anaya Peoples having signed with the Irish. Those two and the increased playing time that the 2018 signing class will receive will help alleviate Young’s absence.

Notre Dame’s pedigree presents a double-edged sword, as the coaching staff contributed to Young’s development, which she noted in her tweet.

“To Coach McGraw and the coaching staff, thank you for believing in me, pushing me and shaping me into the person and player I’ve become,” Young said.

The first round of the WNBA draft will take place in Nike’s New York City headquarters and air Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 while the second and third rounds will follow on ESPNU.

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