By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
The Seattle Storm used their highest draft pick in 10 years to select Tennessee guard/forward Shekinna Stricklen on Monday.
The Storm selected Stricklen with the second overall draft pick, the highest the team has picked since they drafted Lauren Jackson (2001) and Sue Bird (2002) with the first overall pick in the draft.
The Los Angeles Sparks used this year’s No. 1 overall pick to draft Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogwumike.
Jackson and Bird remain with the Storm as the leaders of the team and helped deliver championships to Seattle in 2004 and 2010. Storm head coach and general manager Brian Agler said Stricklen should fit in well with the Storm’s collection of veterans.
“She’ll fit in with our veteran players and she’s somebody we can build around in the future,” Agler said in a press release. “The nice thing for Shekinna this year is we don’t have to force the issue because of who else we have on the team for her to immediately start. We would like for her to come in and be a contributor and a starter for us down the road.”
Stricklen said she was excited to hear her name and join the Storm.
“When I first heard my name, I was really excited,” Stricklen said. “I couldn’t quit smiling. Especially about going to the Seattle Storm — a good team that has a lot of veteran players that I know I can go in there and learn from. It will help me raise my game to a new level and I think I can also help Seattle.”
Stricklen is a versatile player, who started for the Volunteers at point guard as a freshman. By her junior season she was able to move to wing, which is a more natural position for her. Stricklen just completed her best collegiate season, averaging 15.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
The Storm selected Stricklen with the pick that they acquired from the Chicago Sky in the Swin Cash, Le’coe Willingham trade. Now, the Storm will ask Stricklen to help fill the void left by the departure of Cash.
Before the draft on the team’s website, Agler called Stricklen an “extremely versatile perimeter player. A natural three that can play positions one through four – great size and length for a perimeter player.”
Agler said that he spent a lot of time talking to Stricklen about what she can expect in Seattle.
“I educated her on our team and what she can expect with her role,” he said.
After the Storm selected Stricklen with the No. 2 pick, Notre Dame’s Devereaux Peters went third to Minnesota, Tennesee’s Glory Johnson went to Tulsa with the fourth pick and Miami’s Shenise Johnson was selected by San Antonio to round out the top five.
The No. 2 pick had generated the most excitement for Storm fans leading up to a draft in some time, but the team wasn’t done there. The Storm also held the No. 22 overall pick, the 10th selection of the second round, which they used to select DePaul small forward Keisha Hampton.
“This is a dream come true,” Hampton said when contacted by the team from her home in Philadelphia. “I have wanted to play in the WNBA since I was younger and have tried to put in the hard work since day one and today my dream came true. This is a great opportunity to be drafted even after missing my senior year. I appreciate the Seattle giving me the opportunity.”
Hampton was one of the higher rated small forwards going into the draft, but slipped to late in the second round because she missed the end of her senior season with the Blue Demons following arthroscopic knee surgery.
Hampton averaged 16.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game with DePaul this past season before her injury, including a 32 point effort against Northwestern.
Agler said after selecting Hampton that the hope is she can spend the summer rehabbing her knee and preparing to head overseas next fall. Hampton would then return to the Storm in 2013 for training camp to compete for a roster spot.