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Assist for Griner at WNBA draft as Howard goes to Atlanta | Sports



NEW YORK — Moments earlier than Rhyne Howard went to Atlanta with the No. 1 decide within the WNBA draft, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert mentioned the league is working very arduous to assist carry Brittney Griner again to the United States.

Griner, one of many league’s greatest stars, has been detained in Russia since arriving at a Moscow airport in mid-February. Russian authorities mentioned a search of her baggage revealed vape cartridges that allegedly contained oil derived from hashish, which may carry a most penalty of 10 years in jail.

“I want to take a moment to reiterate the WNBA’s support for Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner,” Engelbert mentioned earlier than the draft began. “Please know that getting her home safely continues to be our top priority and while we are facing an extraordinarily complex challenge, there is strength in community, especially the WNBA.”

Howard, who was the primary Kentucky participant to go No. 1 within the draft, will likely be near house, having grown up about 90 minutes from Atlanta.

“For it to be so close is huge. A lot of family and close friends can come and support me,” Howard mentioned. “To go first, I don’t have words for it right now. Still shaking. Super exciting and proud of myself and thankful for everyone that has been on this journey with me and helped me get here.”

The Dream traded up two spots final week to amass the No. 1 decide from the Washington Mystics.

Atlanta completed 8-24 final season and has missed the playoffs 4 of the previous 5 years. The franchise bought new possession final 12 months and introduced in a brand new coach in Tanisha Wright and new common supervisor Dan Padover. The Dream additionally had the No. 1 decide in 2009 and used it to draft Angel McCoughtry.

Indiana, which has 4 picks within the first spherical, drafted NaLyssa Smith from Baylor with the No. 2 decide and her Bears teammate Queen Egbo at 10. The Fever additionally snagged Louisville’s Emily Engstler at No. 4 and Lexie Hull of Stanford at 6.

“We have four top picks, so there is the opportunity for this team to grow tremendously,” Smith said.

The Mystics chose Shakira Austin from Ole Miss third and New York drafted Oregon’s Nyara Sabally in between Indiana’s top two selections.

Sabally got to practice with New York point guard Sabrina Ionescu when the two were at Oregon and she is excited to have a chance to play with her on the Liberty.

“Sab is such an amazing point guard,” Sabally mentioned. “I saw her in practice every day and am excited to share the court with her.”

Dallas took Veronica Burton of Northwestern with the seventh decide. Las Vegas, which made a commerce with Minnesota on Sunday, drafted Mya Hollingshed of Colorado eighth. The Aces then took Florida Gulf Coast’s Kierstan Bell at 11.

Bell received the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year award the final two years and now will get an opportunity to play for her.

Los Angeles drafted Tennessee’s Rae Burrell ninth and Connecticut completed off the primary spherical by selecting Nia Clouden of Michigan State.

The WNBA season ideas off on May 6, with coaching camps opening later this week.

Here are different tidbits from the draft:

HONORING BRITTNEY

Engelbert mentioned there will likely be a league-wide charity initiative spearheaded by the Mercury to help Griner’s philanthropic challenge, known as BG’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive. The drive has gathered new or gently used sneakers for homeless individuals within the Phoenix space.

“This is an unimaginable situation for BG to be in,” Engelbert mentioned. “She continues to have our full support. Certainly, we’re trying everything we can, every angle, working with her legal representation, her agent, elected leaders, the administration. Just everybody in our ecosystem to try and find ways to get her home safely and as quickly as we can.”

PAC-12 SUPREMACY

For the sixth consecutive 12 months the Pac-12 had a number of first-round picks. Sabally, Hull and Hollingshed all went within the first seven picks. No different convention can match that streak.

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More AP girls’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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