April 25, 2000
NORMAN, Okla. - Oklahoma's all-time leading scorer Phylesha Whaley was selected by the Minnesota Lynx with the 38th overall pick in the third round of this year's Women's National Basketball Association Draft Tuesday afternoon. Whaley, the 2000 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, becomes the first OU women's basketball player to ever be drafted by the WNBA.
"It was a good feeling hearing my named called," said Whaley. "I was excited but was getting a little worried down the line. I've been blessed. Everybody wants the chance to play in the WNBA and I'm just glad that I have the chance to play.
"As long as I got picked I was going to be happy. I could of been picky but I'm not. I'm thankful and God has blessed me. I'm happy about where I've been and where I'm going."
The Slaton, Texas, native was Oklahoma's leading scorer for four straight years and top rebounder for the past three seasons. This past season, she averaged 20.8 points and 7.9 rebounds and shot 53.9 percent from the field. The power forward also connected on 48.8 percent of her shots from behind the arc and 81.3 percent from the free throw line.
"I'll probably play small forward," stated Whaley. "Right now I want to go up there, work hard and try to earn a spot on the team. They only have five returnees. It will be a good chance for some of us newcomers to come in and play a lot of minutes. I still have to prove myself and I still have to make the team.
"I'm glad that I've been given the chance to play in this league and with the caliber of players who are in the WNBA. Hopefully, I'll go out and do a good job."
Whaley was one of eight Big 12 Conference players selected in today's draft. The league also had a conference high four first-round selections.
The 5-10 post player guided the Sooners to school record 25 wins (25-8), their first Big 12 Conference regular season title (13-3) and the school's second trip to the NCAA Sweet 16. She leaves OU as the all-time record holder in 14 career categories, including points with 2,187.
"I'm extremely happy for Phylesha," said OU Head Coach Sherri Coale. "This is a wonderful opportunity for her to continue her career and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving person.
"Not only is this an outstanding opportunity for Phylesha but the additional exposure she now gives Oklahoma women's basketball is amazing."
A year ago, Minnesota finished with a 15-17 record in the Western Conference.
"Phylesha is somebody who's an overachiever and brings the right mentality to our team," said Minnesota's Head Coach Brian Agler. "She can move well without the basketball. She does a lot of things with the basketball. She scored more than 2,000 points in her career in college and played in a very demanding conference. Initially, we were trying to find a way for her to fit in because we knew the positive things that she would bring to the team. I think a lot of the teams were doing the same thing, wondering how she was going to match up defensively. We believe she can. We know where her heart is and I think that's the most important thing.
Minnesota had three first-, two second-, one third- and two fourth-round picks. The Lynx draft picks include Grace Daley of Tulane, Betty Lennox of Louisiana Tech, Maylana Martin of UCLA, Marla Brumfield of Rice, Keitha Dickerson of Texas Tech, Whaley, Jana Lichnerova of St. Joseph's and Shanele Stires of Kansas State 95/Columbus quest.
Additional Head Coach Brian Agler comments:
"We just want a very competitive training camp. I think that's where it starts and we're going to try to develop that mentality from the beginning. We've got a lot of very good young players here. It gives us a chance to teach our system to them and that will be key for us."
Number of picks, eight overall:
"The trade yesterday really impacted the draft. We sat down at the combine and went over a lot of difference scenarios. We really Maylana but we didn't know she was going to be there when it came our time to pick again. We were happy with a lot of different combinations that would of come out of the draft. We were not set in any one direction. We stayed open minded and let the thing develop."
"We were not a great athletic team last year and I thought that hurt us a little bit. When we can get athletic people who can score that's when our offense runs its best. We believe we have done that with our draft selections."