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Monday, September 26, 2022

Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard is selected first overall in the Women’s National Basketball Association Draft

Howard, a senior guard, was selected with the first overall selection when the Atlanta Hawks reached an agreement with the Washington Mystics to move up in the draught.

The Atlanta Dream, in need of a versatile athlete to aid in the rebuilding of their squad, picked guard Rhyne Howard from the University of Kentucky with the first overall choice in the Women’s National Basketball Association draught on Monday at Spring Studios in Brooklyn.

Dream General Manager Dan Padover said before the selection that the organisation was searching for a player who would provide “new energy and ignite something underneath our franchise.”

NaLyssa Smith, a senior forward from Baylor University, was picked by the Indiana Fever with the No. 2 overall choice in the draught. Shakira Austin, a centre from the University of Mississippi, was selected by the Washington Mystics as the team’s third pick.

In an interview with the Dream, Howard said that she hoped to bring the same “competitive spirit” as she brought to Kentucky, where she made a point of being “calm, cool, and collected.”

There isn’t much that Howard can’t do. Kentucky’s most prolific scorer, she ranks in the top ten of almost every statistical category and has scored the second-most points in the program’s history, both for women and men. Last month, Howard guided Kentucky to its first Southeastern Conference tournament championship since 1982, when the Wildcats gave South Carolina, the eventual national champion in 2022, their second and final defeat of the season in Lexington. Howard, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., ended her senior year at Kentucky with an average of 20.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, according to the Kentucky Athletics Department.

No. 6 seed Kentucky fell to No. 11 Princeton in the first round of this year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I women’s basketball tournament. The success of Howard’s basketball career at Kentucky, on the other hand, has helped to bring attention to the women’s basketball programme at an institution well renowned for its dominant men’s squad.

After trading the No. 1 selection in last week’s draught to the Washington Mystics, the Atlanta Dream was able to choose her with the second overall pick. The Mystics acquired the Dream’s third and fourteenth overall choices in exchange for their services. Aside from that, the Mystics have the option to trade first-round selections in the 2023 draught, which is projected to attract a large number of talented players from throughout the nation.

Atlanta concluded the season with an 8-24 record, which was the second-worst record in the Western National Basketball Association, and has missed the playoffs for the last three seasons. When the Atlanta Dream acquires Howard, their perimeter game will be instantly bolstered, which should be beneficial since the club sold guard Chennedy Carter to the Los Angeles Sparks in free agency this past summer.

Nyara Sabally, a 6-foot-5 forward from the University of Oregon, was picked by the Liberty as the team’s fifth overall pick. Sabally, who is originally from Berlin, scored a career-high 31 points in Oregon’s last game of the season, a defeat in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament that ended the Ducks’ season. During the 2021-22 season, she had an average of 15.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

It was the culmination of a weekend filled with Women’s National Basketball Association activities held around New York City, including shoot-arounds at neighbourhood playgrounds and a visit to one of the city’s premier shoe stores. As the Women’s National Basketball Association attempts to raise its profile, the league received the most significant boost of all in New York City: the Empire State Building was illuminated in orange, the league’s characteristic colour, on Monday night.

The Chicago Sky, the defending champion, will be among the eight teams competing in the 2022 season, which begins on May 6.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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