The Notre Dame’s Women’s basketball team fell just short in the NCAA Championship game, but on Wednesday the program came up big winners in the WNBA Draft. All five of the starters from the Irish were selected by professional teams, including No. 1 overall pick Jackie Young by the Las Vegas Aces.
It was the second time all five starters from a team were drafted. The other time was 2008 when Tennessee, led by No. 1 pick Candace Parker, had all five taken.
Young, who was the only junior available in the draft, watch teammates Arike Ogunbowale go at No. 5 to Dallas, Brianna Turner at No. 11 to Atlanta (then traded to Phoenix), Jessica Shepard at No. 16 to Minnesota and Marina Mabrey at No. 19 to Los Angeles.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said she was happy for her players and the program, even if it means she will have some major rebuilding to do next season.
“I think it’s a historic moment for our program,” McGraw said. “We set a lot of records this year with this group, and it’s been such a blessing to have coached them and to see their success and them moving on to the next phase of their life. They’ve set a high standard for Notre Dame; it will take a while for us to ever see this kind of team again. It’s probably a once-in-lifetime moment.”
Irish Loss, Aces Gain
Young is the third No. 1 pick for the Las Vegas Aces, who relocated last year from San Antonio. The guard will join 2017 No. 1 pick guard Kelsey Plum and last year’s top pick forward A’ja Wilson.
The team will be loaded in the backcourt. Along with Young and Plum, fellow Notre Dame standout Kayla McBride, who was selected No. 3 in 2014, and UConn’s Moriah Jefferson, who was the No. 2 pick in 2016, are on the roster. The team also acquired Sugar Rodgers from the New York Liberty.
Young had 24 hours after the 82-81 loss in the championship game to decide if she was going to enter the draft. She said it was opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
“It means the world to me,” Young said. “This is what I worked for my whole life. You always dream of being the first pick, but to actually be able to achieve that is just crazy.”
Las Vegas Title Odds Rise
The Aces have been able to stockpile No. 1 picks because of their futility on the court in recent years. From 2015 to 2017 the then San Antonio Stars were in the WNBA basement. The team went 8-26 in 2015, 7-27 in 2016, 8-26 in 2017.
The league announced the team was moving from Texas to Las Vegas, being bought by MGM Resorts in October of 2017. After getting Wilson in the 2018 draft the team’s fortunes began to turn. They were still 100/1 to win the title, but finished a respectable 14-20, and missed making the playoffs by a one victory.
For the 2019 season, oddsmakers believe the Aces should challenge for the championship. The are one of three teams at 7/1, behind 9/5 favorite Seattle, and 7/2 pick Washington.