NEW YORK — Consensus National Player of the Year A’ja Wilson of South Carolina tonight was selected by the Las Vegas Aces with the first overall pick of WNBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm, which was held at the Nike New York Headquarters.
Wilson, a four-time All-America selection and the first three-time SEC Player of the Year, is the first draft pick for the franchise as the Aces (formerly the San Antonio Stars). The 6-5 forward will join the No. 1 overall pick in WNBA Draft 2017, guard Kelsey Plum, and the No. 2 overall pick in WNBA Draft 2016, guard Moriah Jefferson, as the Aces begin play in Las Vegas under new head coach and President of Basketball Operations Bill Laimbeer.
With the No. 2 overall pick, the Indiana Fever selected Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell. The first four-time women’s All-American in school history, Mitchell ranks as the NCAA’s second-leading scorer of all time (3,402 points) and the career leader in three-pointers made (497).
The next two picks were made by the Chicago Sky, which selected guard Diamond DeShields of Cukurova (Turkey) with the third pick and forward Gabby Williams of Connecticut with the fourth pick.
DeShields was a 2016-17 All-SEC First Team selection at Tennessee and the 2013-14 national Freshman of the Year at North Carolina before playing professionally in Turkey. Williams, a two-time national champion (2015 and 2016), won the Cheryl Miller Award as the nation’s top small forward this past season. She was the first of three UConn players selected in the first round of WNBA Draft 2018.
The Seattle Storm used the fifth pick to select UCLA guard Jordin Canada, the Pac-12’s all-time assists leader and the only woman in conference history to record at least 1,800 points and 700 assists. She joins a Storm backcourt that features 10-time All-Star Sue Bird, the WNBA’s all-time assists leader.
With the sixth pick, the Dallas Wings selected forward Azurá Stevens of UConn. In two seasons at Duke and one season with the Huskies, the 6-6 Stevens combined to average 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game.
The Washington Mystics made Texas guard Ariel Atkins the seventh pick in WNBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm. As a senior, Atkins was an Honorable Mention All-American, an All-Big 12 First Team selection and a Big 12 All-Defensive Team choice.
After selecting Ohio State’s Mitchell with the second overall pick, the Fever used the eighth pick to select another guard, Victoria Vivians of Mississippi State. A four-time All-America selection, Vivians led the Bulldogs to the national championship game as a junior and senior.
The Connecticut Sun focused on the backcourt in the first round, selecting Duke guard Lexie Brown at No. 9. The three-time All-America Third Team selection becomes the first daughter of a former WNBA head coach to be drafted; her father, former NBA player Dee Brown, was the head coach of the Orlando Miracle in 2002.
With the 10th pick, the New York Liberty made UConn guard Kia Nurse the third Huskies player selected in the first round. Nurse was a three-time All-AAC selection and a key member of UConn’s national championship teams in 2015 and 2016.
Two centers were chosen to complete the first round of the three-round draft, with the Los Angeles Sparks selecting Maria Alekseyevna Vadeeva of Dynamo Kursk (Russia) at No. 11 and the Phoenix Mercury selecting Marie Gulich of Oregon State at No. 12. The 6-4 Vadeeva has played with 2016 WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike on Kursk, and the two frontcourt players are now set to be teammates with the Sparks. Gulich, a German native, was a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.79 blocked shots as a senior.
WNBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm took place on the same day that single-game tickets went on sale for many teams for the 2018 season, which tips off on Friday, May 18. For ticket information, fans can visit wnba.com/tickets or team websites.