During the 2022 WNBA Draft, On Her Turf was on-site at Spring Studios in New York to provide live updates. See below to relive how this year’s WNBA Draft unfolded, including a round-by-round summary of draft picks.
2022 WNBA Draft – Live Updates and Highlights:
Draft Pick No. 1: With the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, the Atlanta Dream selects Rhyne Howard. Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy has called Howard a “once-in-a-lifetime” player.
“To go first, I don’t even have words for it right now,” Howard said of being the No. 1 overall draft pick. “I’m proud of what I’ve done and proud of myself.”
Throughout her final season with Kentucky, Howard said she tried not to think too much about her future in the WNBA.
“During the season I kind of blocked it out. I wanted to be there for my team and focus on where my shoes were, and I knew that wouldn’t have been possible if I was focusing on the next level,” she said.
No. 2: As predicted, with the second pick of the draft, the Indiana Fever picks up Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith. She’ll be part of a big growing year for the Fever, a team that has seven picks in this year’s WNBA Draft (including four in the first round).
“We have four top picks, so it’s a chance and an opportunity for this team to grow tremendously,” Smith said.
No. 3: The Washington Mystics select Shakira Austin of Ole Miss.
“I feel like I got lucky,” Austin said of being selected by a team with a deep veteran core that includes players like Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud.
“I feel like it’s just the best possible opportunity for me to learn and take my time but also learn from the best. That’s a championship-level team, and that’s where I’m meant to be.”
Austin has plans to be one of those big names one day, telling media she is going to have a long career in the league.
“The people in the league right now who are big-time stars, they’re built like me. They’re tall, they’re long, they’re versatile, they’re not strictly limited to back to the basket or post moves. I think just watching the game and watching how the different players have spotlighted over the past couple years, that’s why I feel like I’m going to be successful,” Austin said.
No. 4: With their second pick of seven tonight, the Indiana Fever select Emily Engstler, who transferred from Syracuse to Louisville ahead of the 2021-22 NCAA season. Her stock really rose during the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, helping Louisville reach the Final Four in Minneapolis.
After the Cardinals lost in the NCAA semifinals last week, Hailey VanLith made sure to talk up Engstler and Kianna Smith to any WNBA coaches or GMs who were listening:
“You look at all the intangibles they bring… how they just elevated everyone else and made everyone else a better player. You can’t teach that, and they naturally have that, and that’s why they’re going to be drafted really soon,” Van Lith said.
No. 5: With the fifth overall pick, the New York Liberty selects Oregon’s Nyara Sabally.
“It’s amazing to get drafted by New York. This city is amazing, the organization is amazing. It’s just very surreal, and I’m super excited,” she said.
Nyara was on a zoom call with her sister Sato of the Dallas Wings when her name was called. “I saw her face. She was very excited,” Nyara said.
No. 6: With their third pick of the night – and the sixth overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft – the Indiana Fever selects Stanford’s Lexie Hull.
No. 7: The Dallas Wings pick Northwestern’s Veronica Burton. “These are the moments that you dream about as a young woman, as a young girl,” she said.
While Burton wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school, she credits her underdog mentality with helping her reach the WNBA.
“I think that chip on my shoulder is what got me here,” she said. “But obviously I went to the right place at Northwestern, and I hope that’s the same with Dallas. I think it really comes down to the place and the fit and my mindset, and that mindset has certainly not changed. I just want to continue to get better and better. That’s in my control, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
No. 8: In the biggest surprise of the night so far, the Las Vegas Aces select Colorado’s Mya Hollingshed.
No. 9: The Los Angeles Sparks select Tennessee’s Rae Burrell as the No. 9 overall pick.
“This is probably one of the best days of my life,” Burrell said.
Hailing from Las Vegas, Burrell said she hopes to inspire the next generation of kids in that community.
“Vegas for the longest time got overlooked, so I’m just happy to pave the way for future ballers that want to take the same journey that I did,” she said. “I hope they see that working hard can turn your dreams into reality.”
No. 10: Indiana Fever selects Queen Egbothe second Baylor player drafted by the Fever so far tonight.
No. 11: Kierstan Bell of Florida Gulf Coast University is headed to Las Vegas.
“It’s an honor to be under a coach like that,” Bell said of being drafted by new Aces head coach Becky Hammon.
“I did get a little nervous,” she said of being the second-to-last pick of the first round, noting that she hadn’t spoken to Las Vegas prior to being drafted.
Looking ahead, Bell said she hopes her versatility serves her well.
“I know it’s going to be a lot of new things that I have to adjust to, but I’m willing to be open-minded and be comfortable with being in uncomfortable positions, and that’s why I think that sets me apart from a lot of people because I’m never comfortable being satisfied.”
No. 12: With the final pick of the first round, the Connecticut Sun selects Michigan State’s Nia Clouden.
“Connecticut was high on my radar. I had some great conversations with Coach Curt Miller,” Clouden said. “So when I knew that I was still around at 12, I wasn’t surprised when they picked me.”
As for the deep roster the Sun has heading into training camp, Clouden says she wants to learn as much as she can.
“Connecticut has some really great players – Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas and more – so just being able to learn from them and then just work and keep working and working and working, and that’s what I plan to do.”
2022 WNBA Draft – Second Round Draftees:
Draft Pick No. 13: The Las Vegas Aces select LSU guard Khayla Pointer.
No. 14: The Washington Mystics select UConn’s Christyn Williams.
No. 15: The Atlanta Dream picks Michigan forward Naz Hillmon.
“I’m just excited to be here,” Hillmon said of being picked in the second round instead of the first. “Being disappointed in this moment is neglectful to the people who weren’t picked up at all.”
No. 16: The Los Angeles Sparks draft Louisville guard Kianna Smith.
No. 17: Elissa Cunane of NC State is drafted by the Seattle Storm.
“I didn’t have many expectations coming in tonight. I know that it is a very tough league to get into,” Cunane said. “I was just excited to hear my name called.”
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No. 18: With a second straight pick, the Seattle Storm selects Georgia Tech’s Lorela Cubaj. Shortly after Cubaj was drafted by the Storm, she was traded to the New York Liberty in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft.
No. 19: The Los Angeles Sparks draft UConn’s Olivia Nelson-Ododa.
No. 20: The Indiana Fever selects Destanni Henderson. While Henderson was predicted to go earlier in the draft, she’s lucky the Fever snatched her up instead of the Storm, Sparks, or another team with loaded roster.
“It’s been crazy, but good crazy,” Henderson said of the whirlwind of winning the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball title to being drafted into the WNBA.
As for being drafted by Indiana in the second round, Henderson says she tried to enter the night without too many expectations.
“I was just staying positive about the outcome and which ever order that it went, it really didn’t matter,” she said. “Just hearing my name was my outcome, and I got that tonight.”
No. 21: UConn’s Evina Westbrook is drafted by the Seattle Storm.
No. 22: The Minnesota Lynx select NC State’s Kayla Jones.
No. 23: Virginia Tech’s Aisha Sheppard is selected by the Las Vegas Aces.
No. 24: Baylor guard Jordan Lewis is drafted by the Connecticut Sun.
2022 WNBA Draft – Third Round Picks:
No. 25: Jackson State center Ameshya Williams-Holliday is drafted by the Indiana Fever. Williams-Holliday is the first player from an HBCU drafted into the WNBA since 2002.
No. 26: Notre Dame’s Maya Dodson is drafted by the Phoenix Mercury.
No. 27: University of Hawaii forward Amy Atwell is picked by the Los Angeles Sparks.
No. 28: South Dakota’s Hannah Sjerven is selected by the Minnesota Lynx.
No. 29: 19-year-old Sika Kone of Mali is drafted by the New York Liberty.
Ahead of Sue Bird‘s 21st year in the WNBA (and 19th season playing), here’s a fun fact to put her longevity into perspective:
No. 30: Delaware’s Jasmine Dickey is selected by the Dallas Wings.
No. 31: North Florida’s Jazz Bond is selected by the Dallas Wings.
No. 32: IUPUI’s macee williams is drafted by the Phoenix Mercury.
No. 33: Australia’s jade melbourne19, is selected by the Seattle Storm.
No. 34: Indiana guard Ali Patberg is drafted by the Indiana Fever.
No. 35: LSU’s Faustine Aifuwa is selected by the Las Vegas Aces.
No. 36: Florida guard Kiara Smith is drafted by the Connecticut Sun.
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2022 WNBA Draft: Round-by-round picks, highlights and quotes originally appeared on NBCSports.com