BRISTOL, Conn. – With an amazing collegiate career in the rearview mirror, University of Delaware women’s basketball senior Elena Delle Donne is expected tobe a top pick this evening in the 2013 WNBA Draft, held at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
This past season, Delle Donne helped lead the No. 15 Blue Hens to a 32-4 overall record in addition to back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association titles and a NCAA Sweet 16 appearance for the first time in school history.
The three-time CAA Player of the Year and four-time All-American finished her career with 3,039 points, good for fifth all-time in NCAA history. Additionally, Delle Donne holds 10 Delaware women’s basketball records while taking hold on five CAA career records.
“This is a very exciting time for Elena, her family, her teammates and our coaching staff,” stated Delaware head coach Tina Martin. “We are all anxious to see where she is selected. Elena has had such an outstanding collegiate career and we are all confident that she will excel at the next level. She has been a great representative of the University of Delaware and we know that she will represent the WNBA franchise team that selects her extremely well.”
Gary Kloppenburg, head coach of the Tulsa Shock, who hold the third pick in tonight’s WNBA Draft, sees Delle Donne as a once-in-a-lifetime player.
“Elena is highly skilled at 6-5, where she can play every position,” commented Kloppenburg. “We haven’t seen a player like her come into our league. No matter where she’s drafted, I anticipate her coming in and getting a great opportunity to play full-time.”
Delle Donne, a threat down low and from beyond the three-point arc, is one of the most illustrious student-athletes, if not the most, to put on a Delaware uniform. During her four years with the Hens, UD amassed 104 victories, two CAA Championships and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament, which included a school-record three wins.
“I’m very comfortable going inside and facing some of the bigger girls,” remarked Delle Donne. “I think my versatility will help because I’m also able to go outside and play the guard spot. If the banging inside is getting to be a little too much, I can move out and do something else.”
While at Delaware, Delle Donne saw various different defenses thrown at her from a box and ones, triangles and twos and other random resistances opponents felt would throw her off her game.
“I saw all different kinds of defenses in college, but I am definitely looking forward to playing more straight-up basketball in the WNBA,” said Delle Donne. “I played this way a lot with USA basketball, which was really enjoyable.”
The Phoenix Mercury, who finished 7-27 during the 2012 slate, will have the first pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft. Rounding out this year’s top five picks are the Chicago Sky (second), Tulsa Shock (third), Washington Mystics (fourth), and the New York Liberty(fifth).
“I’m ready to take the next step and play basketball as a professional,” Delle Donne noted. “This is something I’ve dreamed of my entire life. And now that it’s here, I’m thrilled about it and ready to make my next move, no matter where I’m picked.”
Delle Donne, a native of Wilmington, Del., is not the first Delaware player drafted by a WNBA team as just five years ago, the Mercury selected Tyresa Smith as the 18th overall pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft.
“To have two WNBA draft picks in our program is truly an honor,” Martin expressed. “We are very proud of both of their accomplishments. “I remember how exciting that day was for Tyresa and the Smith family and I know Elena and the Delle Donne family will share in the same excitement today. Having two high profile draft picks has given our program and the University of Delaware more exposure on a national level.”
Smith was also a native of Delaware, growing up in Dover and attending Polytech High School. Smith was waived by the Mercury prior to the start of the 2007 season, but was later signed by the Detroit Shock, becoming the first player in UD history to play in the WNBA. She most recently played overseas, in leagues in Russia, Israel and Germany.
The 2013 WNBA Draft will make history as it will be televised on prime time television for the first time in the league’s 17-year history. ESPN2 will provide coverage and analysis of the first round beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPNU will air the second and third rounds beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
The telecast will also be available online at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app. Host Kevin Negandhi, analysts Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck, along with reporters Holly Rowe and LaChina Robinson, will handle draft coverage duties throughout the night.
WNBA.com, in addition to providing comprehensive draft-day coverage, will serve as the web destination for fans that want to track top prospects throughout the draft.
Fans can also tweet questions to the players using the hash tag #WNBADraft on Twitter.
2013 WNBA DRAFT ORDER
1 – Phoenix Mercury (7-27)
2 – Chicago Sky (14-20)
3 – Tulsa Shock (9-25)
4 – Washington Mystics (5-29)
5 – New York Liberty (15-19)
6 – Seattle Storm (16-18)
7 – New York (via trade with Atlanta)
8 – San Antonio Silver Stars (21-13)
9 – Indiana Fever (22-12)
10 – Los Angeles Sparks (24-10)
11 – Connecticut Sun (25-9)
12 – Minnesota Lynx (27-7)
1 (13) – Atlanta Dream (19-15)
2 (14) – Minnesota
3 (15) – New York
4 (16) – San Antonio
5 (17) – Washington
6 (18) – Seattle
7 (19) – Washington
8 (20) – San Antonio
9 (21) – Indiana
10 (22) – Los Angeles
11 (23) – Connecticut
12 (24) – Minnesota
1 (25) – Washington
2 (26) – Phoenix
3 (27) – New York
4 (28) – Chicago
5 (29) – Tulsa
6 (30) – Seattle
7 (31) – Atlanta
8 (32) – San Antonio
9 (33) – Indiana
10 (34) – Los Angeles
11 (35) – Connecticut
12 (36) – Minnesota