For the third time in program history, two Lady Bears were selected in the 2017 WNBA Draft.
Alexis Jones was the first chosen as the Minnesota Lynx selected her with the 12th pick.
Jones was the seventh first rounder in program history.
“It’s a veteran team,” Jones said. “It’s also a championship winning team. It’s going to be very difficult for me. I’m going to have to go in there and play my role, whatever role they give me, and be my best in that role.”
Jones, the only player to record a triple-double in the Big 12 this season, was named a 2017 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American and to the All-Big 12 first team after averaging 13.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per contest. She was twice named Big 12 Player of the Week (Nov. 30, Jan. 30) and once selected Naismith Trophy Women’s Player of the Week (Jan. 31) this season.
“(What stood out) was the idea of playing for a successful team like Baylor and being counted on heavily,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “She was a big piece of running the group, a playmaker. She shoots the 3-ball. Those sorts of things translate well.”
The Lynx have won three titles in the last four seasons with the lone loss coming a year ago to the LA Sparks. Minnesota’s starting lineup is intact from last year’s run with Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson.
With so much talent, Jones has plenty of players to learn from – like Whalen, Moore and Augustus.
Whalen, Moore and Augustus have multiple WNBA titles and Olympic gold medals as they’ve been in the league 14, six and 11 years respectively.
“That’s just an amazing group to be playing with,” Jones said. “There’s nothing like playing with that group of girls on a championship winning team. They’re popular in the league. I don’t think you could ask for more, playing with such popular players.”
But Reeve doesn’t want Jones to come in and merely learn.
She wants her to compete.
“The first day of training camp is going to be an adventure,” Reeve said. “There’s lots to learn. It’s a huge jump from college to pro, like from high school to college but add a couple of steps. We have four Olympians on our basketball team. When I spoke to Alexis I told her it was a great opportunity to learn but also just be yourself and compete. We’ve got a group in the backcourt that we’re trying to manage minutes with, vets that don’t want to play 35 minutes per game. (Jones) has the opportunity to compete for minutes.”
Alexis Prince was selected with the 29th pick by the Phoenix Mercury.
“(Hearing my name called) felt amazing,” Prince said in a statement. “God is good, and I’m excited to get to training camp and do what I can to contribute to the team.”
Prince, the 32nd Lady Bear to surpass the 1,000 career point mark, was selected to the All-Big 12 second team and Big 12 All-Defensive Team after starting every game as a senior.
She averaged career-highs in points (12.1) and rebounds (5.8) per game.
Prince joins former Baylor player Brittney Griner and was the lone pick by the Mercury in Thursday’s draft.
“That will be cool to link back up with her, it’s been a while,” Prince said. “It was great playing with her at Baylor. She has a great personality and I would love to have the opportunity to play with her again at the next level.”
Behind Diana Taurasi and Griner, DeWanna Bonner, Penny Taylor and Candice Dupree were the only other Mercury players to average double figures.
But Bonner won’t be available to play this season due to her pregnancy, Taylor retired and Dupree was traded.
That leaves things wide open for Prince to step into the small forward position, where Bonner usually played.
The WNBA season tips off May 13.