NEW YORK - Two-time All-American Charli Collier of Texas tonight was selected by the Dallas Wings with the first overall pick of WNBA Draft 2021 presented by State Farm®, which was held virtually for a second year in a row in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A finalist for the Lisa Leslie Award as the nation’s top center, Collier is the first No. 1 overall selection in the WNBA Draft from the University of Texas. In her final season for the Longhorns, she averaged 19.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
With the No. 2 overall pick, the Wings selected center Awak Kuier of Finland, making history as the first WNBA team to make back-to-back selections to open the draft. Kuier, who is set to become the first player from Finland to play in the WNBA, made her mark on basketball at age 15 when she dunked at the NBA Basketball Without Borders camp at 2017 NBA All-Star in New Orleans. She is a member of Finland’s national team program.
With the third pick, the Atlanta Dream selected Arizona guard Aari McDonald. Named both the Pac-12’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, she helped lead the Wildcats to an appearance in the championship game of the NCAA Women’s Tournament for the first time in the program’s history. McDonald was also a finalist for both the Naismith National Player of the Year award and the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation’s top point guard.
The Indiana Fever used the fourth pick to select guard Kysre Gondrezick of West Virginia. An All-Big 12 Team selection, she finished her career ranked in the conference top 10 for scoring, assists, and steals. Her late father, Grant Gondrezick, played in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns and LA Clippers.
With the fifth pick, Dallas made its third selection of the first round, drafting Arkansas guard Chelsea Dungee. A first team All-American selection this season, she appeared on the Naismith College Player of the Year ballot in both 2020 and 2021 and was a finalist for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award as the nation’s top shooting guard.
The New York Liberty used the sixth pick to select UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere. The two-time All-American was a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award and was a candidate for the Naismith College Player of the Year award in both 2020 and 2021.
The Los Angeles Sparks used the seventh and 10th picks on Alabama forward Jasmine Walker and North Carolina guard Stephanie Watts. Walker, a two-time All-SEC selection, was twice a finalist for the Katrina McClain Award as the nation’s top power forward and led Alabama to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 22 years in 2021. Watts led North Carolina in assists, steals, and blocks in both 2020 and 2021, and was named ACC Freshman of the Year in 2016.
With the eighth pick, the Chicago Sky selected guard Shyla Heal of Australia. Heal debuted in Australia’s Women’s National Basketball League at the age of 14. She is the daughter of Shane Heal, who previously played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs.
The Minnesota Lynx followed by selecting guard-forward Rennia Davis of Tennessee with the ninth pick. The two-time All-SEC first team selection was a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Awardas the nation’s best college small forward in 2021.
At No. 11, the defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm used its lone first-round pick on Texas A&M guard Aaliyah Wilson and traded her draft rights to Indiana for the player contract of Kennedy Burke. As an All-SEC second team selection, Wilson led her team in points, steals, assists, and blocks per game.
With the No. 12 pick, the Las Vegas Aces selected forward Iliana Rupert of France. She is a member of the French national team program and plays for the Bourges Basket in the Euroleague.
The Wings made their fourth selection of the draft with the first pick of the second round, selecting Louisville guard Dana Evans. The two-time ACC Player of the Year was a candidate for the Naismith College Player of the Year and the John R. Wooden Award. Evans was also a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award as the nation’s top guard and a finalist for Ann Meyers Drysdale Award.
With its third overall pick of the draft, the Sparks selected Rutgers guard Arella Guirantes at No. 22 in the second round. The three-time All-Big Ten selection was a finalist for both the Dawn Staley Award and was a candidate for the John R. Wooden Award. Guirantes averaged 21.3 points this season and was the only player in her conference to rank in the top five in points, assists, steals, and blocks per game.
In the third round, three international players were selected, including guard Marine Fauthoux ofFrance at No. 29 by the Liberty, guard Florencia Chagas of Argentina at No. 31 by the Fever,and guard Aina Ayuso of Spain at No. 34 by the Sparks. Overall, seven international players were selected representing five different countries over three rounds of the draft.
During the draft, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert spoke about the league and the players’continued commitment to social justice and vaccine education during the off-season. The draft telecast also featured WNBA players discussing COVID vaccines with a focus on health equity and previewed the league’s upcoming 25th season, and featured a guest appearance from WNBA legend Tina Thompson, the first player selected in the inaugural WNBA Draft of April 28, 1997.