McCoughtry top pick in WNBA draft

WNBA DraftAngel McCoughtry didn’t have too much time to dwell on Louisville’s loss in the NCAA championship game.

Just two days later, the All-American forward was selected by the Atlanta Dream with the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft.

“There’s been a lot going on,” she said Thursday. “It has been very busy and hectic.”

The 6-foot-1 McCoughtry averaged 22.8 points and 9.5 rebounds her last three years and led the Cardinals to an upset of Oklahoma in the Final Four before losing to undefeated Connecticut in Tuesday night’s title game.

“I feel on top of the world right now, I’m on cloud nine,” she said. “I was very honored and it’s very humbling. I want to thank Atlanta for believing in me and believing we can take this program to another level and contend for a WNBA championship.”

Atlanta, 4-30 in its inaugural season last year, appears vastly improved after setting a league record for losses. The Dream added former All-Stars Chamique Holdsclaw and Michelle Snow, as well as Nikki Teasley and Sancho Lyttle in the offseason.

“We have people now who have won championships in the WNBA and NCAA,” Dream general manager and coach Marynell Meadors said. “You can’t substitute nothing from that. We have finishers now. And we just drafted someone who can really score.”

Washington took Maryland’s Marissa Coleman with the No. 2 pick. The 6-foot-1 forward averaged 18.1 points and 8.6 rebounds while helping the Terrapins reach the NCAA regional finals. She scored a career-high 42 points in a regional semifinal win over Vanderbilt.

“Her size, versatility, and ability to score from anywhere on the floor makes her a very special player,” Mystics president and GM Angela Taylor said in a release. “Her competitiveness, work ethic, and passion for winning have made her a champion.”

Coleman and Maryland teammate Kristi Toliver, who was selected third by Chicago, were on the Terrapins’ national championship team as freshmen three years ago.

Coleman grew up in Maryland and her college campus is about 30 miles from the Mystics’ home arena.

“It’s exciting to play in Washington, in front of my family and friends,” she said. “I’ll still get to see them and they’ll get to come to all my games.”

The Minnesota Lynx selected Connecticut’s Renee Montgomery with the fourth pick. Montgomery had career bests of 16.5 points and 5.1 assists this season while helping the Huskies finish the season 39-0 for their sixth national championship.

“It’s been a busy couple of days, but for the right reasons,” Montgomery said. “This is obviously an exciting time. I’m trying to take it all in.”

Auburn’s DeWanna Bonner was taken by Phoenix at No. 5 and Arizona State’s Briann January went to Indiana with the sixth pick. Sacramento selected Oklahoma center Courtney Paris, who grew up in the San Francisco area, at No. 7.

“I’m so excited, I never even thought about the potential of getting back to California and having that opportunity to play in front of my friends and family again,” said the first four-time AP All-American who is the daughter of former 49ers offensive lineman Bubba Paris.

New York took Rutgers’ Kia Vaughn with the eighth pick, and the Lynx picked Virginia Commonwealth’s Quanitra Hollingsworth with their second selection.

Rounding out the first round, it was: Duke’s Chante Black to Connecticut at No. 10; Pittsburgh’s Shavonte Zellous to defending champion Detroit at No. 11; California’s Ashley Walker to Seattle at No. 12; and Purdue’s Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton to Los Angeles at No. 13.

Paris’ twin sister Ashley was considered a possible first-rounder but slid down to the Sparks in the second round with the 22nd overall pick.

Courtney Paris acknowledged it would be an odd feeling for the two to be on different teams, adding: “Even though we’ve been at the same place, I feel like we’ve learned to be more independent and supportive of each other.”

Also, two days after Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said the university wouldn’t hold Paris to her promise to pay back her scholarship if she didn’t lead the Sooners to a national title, she said she planned to set up a fund that will support the needy in the state instead.

Teams will open training camp May 17, exhibition games will begin May 21 and the league’s 13th season will start June 6.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.