As expected, Brittney Griner was selected with the first overall pick in Monday’s 2013 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury — the first Baylor player ever selected first overall in any major league draft. Teammate Brooklyn Pope was also drafted in the third round by the Chicago Sky; the pair were the eighth and ninth Lady Bears selected in WNBA draft history.
The Mercury rolled out all the stops after selecting Griner Monday night, introducing “the Griner Pack” of tickets, launching a special section of their website dedicated to the Baylor senior, unveiling a 77-foot banner in downtown Phoenix, and even “renaming” a street near their arena “Griner Street.” (You can also already order a “Griner 42″ Mercury jersey.)
But while signing as the top overall pick may seem the obvious choice, Griner could face an interesting decision: Should she go to the WNBA, where she’s predicted for stardom, or take a chance on a potential once-in-a-generation opportunity?
As you may have heard — even World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer picked up on the story — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has made headlines for suggesting that his team would consider taking Griner in this summer’s NBA draft. She wouldn’t be the first woman to get a shot with an NBA team — in 1977, the Utah Jazz drafted Delta State’s Lusia Harris before the NCAA even recognized women’s basketball — but it’s enough of a rarity that Cuban’s comments sparked all sorts of speculation.
Women’s basketball pioneer Nancy Lieberman said Griner should go for it; UConn coach Geno Auriemma, on the other hand, called it “absolutely ludicrous” to think Griner could make it in the NBA. Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitski and coach Rick Carlisle each weighed in; Nowitski said it would be “tough” for her to make it, but Carlisle called her “a hell of a player.” And NBA.com columnist Fran Blinebury noted that Griner wouldn’t be the most unusual draft pick in NBA history.
Griner has said she’s interested by the possibilities; we’ll see what happens when the NBA draft rolls around in June. Until then…
Sic ’em, Brittney!