NORMAN, Okla. Former Oklahoma forward Leah Rush was drafted in the third round of the 2007 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury on Wednesday afternoon. Rush was taken with the second pick in the third round, 28th overall.
“It is a dream come true,” said Rush. “A month ago I had no idea if I would be drafted. Now I am going to a team that plays an up-tempo style and is run by a basketball legend in (General Manager) Anne Meyers Drysdale.”
Rush, who finished her career 12th on the OU career scoring list at 1,427, will not have a guaranteed contract with the Mercury. She will have to earn a spot on the team during preseason camp, which begins in mid-April.
“Coming in, I felt like my versatility was my biggest asset,” said Rush. “I think that will help me with the Mercury. They play a fast brand of basketball and need players that that can do a variety of things offensively. It is a fun brand of basketball, that hopefully I can be a part of for a long time.”
The Mercury are led by 2006 All-WNBA First Team performer Diana Taurasi, who became the first player in league history to score 800 points during the 2006 season.
Rutgers alum and 2006 All-Star Cappie Pondexter is also on the Phoenix squad, which went 18-16 last season and just missed clinching a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Mercury are coached by Paul Westhead, who is known as the Guru of Go’. Westhead has over 30 years of head coaching experience, including stops in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls. Westhead spent 18 seasons in NCAA men’s basketball coaching LaSalle, Loyola Marymount and George Mason.
Rush was a three-time All-Big 12 honoree, including second team league honors as a sophomore and junior. Her play down the stretch in 2006-07 capped off what was the best season of her career. She posted career highs in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, 3-pointers made and assist-to-turnover ratio.
“We couldn’t be more excited for Leah,” said OU head coach Sherri Coale. “She is walking into a great situation with an up-and-coming team that plays a style that fits her abilities. I have known GM Anne Meyers-Drysdale for years and she is a quality individual that runs a first class organization.”
Rush was in Cleveland for the draft and will return to Norman in the coming days. She is one class away from earning her degree in communications. Rush and fellow seniors Kendra Moore, Britney Brown and Erin Higgins are expected to receive their diplomas in the May graduation ceremonies.
Rush is the seventh OU player to be drafted during the Coale era. OU legend Stacey Dales is the only other Sooner still playing in the league. Dales spent last season with the Chicago Sky, who are coached by former OU assistant coach Bo Overton.
2005 graduate Dionnah Jackson is currently playing professionally in Israel and is also hoping to make a WNBA roster later this month.