Historic Night At The WNBA Draft
The 2020 WNBA Draft went virtual as the global pandemic forced the league to conduct its annual event with the help of technology. Commissioner Kathy Engelbert ran the show from her home and the night was a huge success all around. Despite the obvious challenges, the draft was entertaining and filled with history and nostalgia.
Sabrina Ionescu, the all-everything point guard from the University of Oregon, went first overall to the New York Liberty. Her teammate, Satou Sabally, went next to the Dallas Wings. It marked just the third time in the history of the WNBA Draft that college teammates went 1-2. In the 2016 WNBA Draft, Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson from UConn were taken with the top two picks (Seattle/San Antonio). In 2002, Sue Bird and UConn teammate Swin Cash were taken 1-2 overall by Seattle and Detroit, respectively.
Bella Alarie, a 3-time Ivy League Player of the Year from Princeton, went fourth overall to the Dallas Wings, making her the highest pick in history of the WNBA Draft from an Ivy League school. Allison Feaster went fifth overall to the Los Angeles Sparks in 1998. Bella is the daughter of Mark Alarie, who was selected 18th overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 1986 NBA Draft out of Duke.
Several players made history by becoming the first-ever draft picks of their respective schools. Jaylen Agnew of Creighton was selected 24th overall by the Washington Mystics. Stella Johnson from Rider was taken 29th by the Phoenix Mercury. Lauren Manis of Holy Cross was snapped up by the Las Vegas Aces with the 33rd overall selection.
Once again, the Ogwumike family had reason to celebrate. Erica Ogwumike (Rice) was taken by the Minnesota Lynx with the 26th selection before being traded to New York.. She is the third sister from the family to hear her name called. Nneka (2012) and Chiney (2014) were both number one overall selections out of Stanford.
The WNBA made Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester honorary draft picks. All were lost in the January 26th helicopter accident that also claimed the life of basketball legend Kobe Bryant. The league also introduced the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, which will recognize an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels.