In this April 5, 2016 file photo, Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart celebrates after the Huskies’ 82-51 victory over Syracuse in the NCAA women’s championship game on April 5 in Indianapolis.

In this April 5, 2016 file photo, Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart celebrates after the Huskies’ 82-51 victory over Syracuse in the NCAA women’s championship game on April 5 in Indianapolis.

Seattle Storm pick Stewart with No. 1 pick in WNBA draft

  • Herald news services
  • Thursday, April 14, 2016 5:38pm
  • SportsSports

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck had historic careers at UConn. The trio made more history Thursday night in the WNBA as the top three picks in the draft.

Stewart went first to the Seattle Storm, Jefferson second to San Antonio and Tuck third to Connecticut. It’s the first time that the top three picks came from the same school.

“When you look at our senior class it speaks for itself going one, two, three,” Stewart said. “Lots of comparisons between past UConn teams and this one, when we do things that make history, that’s saying it all.”

Stewart was talking to the media when she heard that Tuck was drafted third by the Sun.

“I’m so happy,” she said. “That may have made me more happy than being No. 1 overall. To see her go through all that she’s been through, to leave with us and then for us to go 1-2-3 that’s picture perfect.”

No draft in any major sport has ever had the top three picks come from the same school according to information provided to the WNBA by the Elias Sports Bureau.

“We’re sisters for sure,” Jefferson said. “I heard her name and I stopped, started clapping. I got so emotional. To go through the journey the way we have and make history on the college level and history here, it’s unbelievable. I can’t think of anything being any better.”

The WNBA has had two of the first three players come from the same school on three separate occasions. The closest to the top three being from the same team was in 2002 when UConn had players taken first, second, fourth and sixth.

The 6-foot-4 Stewart averaged 19.4 points and 8.7 rebounds to lead the Huskies to a fourth consecutive national championship earlier this month. She became the first player in NCAA history to earn most outstanding player of the Final Four all four years.

“We are thrilled to add Breanna to our roster and excited to welcome her to the Pacific Northwest,” Storm president and general manager Alisha Valavanis said in a press release. “She is a dynamic, versatile playmaker and another key piece as we continue to build.”

When her name was called by new WNBA President Lisa Borders, Stewart hugged UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who was sitting at her table. She then gave a hug to Jefferson and Tuck with her other former UConn teammates applauding from the crowd at Mohegan Sun. It was the third straight season that the draft was held at the home of the Connecticut Sun. There was a loud crowd on hand to cheer on the former Huskies and draft picks.

It marked the second straight season that the Storm had the top pick in the draft. Seattle took Jewell Loyd at No. 1 last year. The team also had back-to-back No. 1 selections in 2001 and 2002 when Seattle drafted Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird.

“I don’t know how steep Breanna’s learning curve will be, but I believe that she has the ingredients to be a very special player,” Storm head coach Jenny Boucek said in the team’s press release. “Her skill portfolio is uniquely diverse, and we cannot wait to begin the journey of integrating her to enhance our team.”

Rachel Banham went fourth to Connecticut. The Minnesota guard tied the NCAA record this season with 60 points in a game.

Michigan State’s Aerial Powers went fifth to Dallas while George Washington’s Jonquel Jones was picked sixth by Los Angeles. Soon after getting drafted she was later traded to Connecticut for Chelsea Gray and the Sun’s No. 1 draft pick next year. The teams also traded a few picks in the second and third round of Thursday’s draft.

Washington’s Talia Walton was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the fifth pick of the third round (No. 29 overall). Walton became the highest drafted player in UW history.

Walton was on hand at the draft with Husky head coach Mike Neighbors and participated in the buildup to the draft.

She heads to the Sparks who finished 14-20 last season and placed fourth in the Western Conference.

Walton, a 6-2 guard/forward finished her five-year career as the one of the most outstanding players in Washington program history earlier this month at the Final Four in Indianapolis. Although the Huskies fell in the national semifinal, Walton scored 29 points on 8-of-9 3-point shooting. The eight 3’s were a Final Four record.

Washington State guard Lia Galdeira became the first player in Cougar history drafted when she was selected by the Washington Mystics as the No. 19 overall pick in the second round.

A standout from 2012-15, Galdeira appeared in 96 games for the Cougars. The Kamuela, Hawaii native ranks second on WSU’s all-time scoring history with 1,710 career points. She also sits second in career 3-pointers with 160, second in career steals (271), and fourth in career made free throws (308).

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