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Sun grab 6-4 Anigwe in WNBA draft; Samuelson, Collier selected in first round

With the 2019 WNBA season on the horizon, the Connecticut Sun added four new players on Wednesday night.

The Sun, who went 21-13 a year ago, drafted 6-foot-4 Kristine Anigwe from the University of California, with the ninth overall selection. Sun general manager and coach Curt Miller thought that Anigwe would be selected by the Chicago Sky earlier in the draft.

“We’re ecstatic she dropped (to No. 9),” Miller said. “I have had Anigwe going to Chicago at No. 4 for the past six weeks, so when she didn’t go at four, we had hope.” The Sky selected UConn All-American Katie Lou Samuelson with their fourth pick.

Samuelson and her All-American teammate Naphissa Collier were each selected in the first round. Samuelson went to Chicago at No. 4 while Collier was selected by the Minnesota Lynx at No. 6.

Since the WNBA was founded, 25 UConn players have been selected in the first round. This is the 12th time that more than one UConn player has been selected in the same draft.

Samuelson will join former UConn stars Gabby Williams and Stefanie Dolson in Chicago. Collier won’t get the chance to play with former UConn great Maya Moore this summer in Minnesota. Moore is taking off this season.

The 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Anigwe led the nation in rebounding with 16.2 rebounds per game. The first four-time All-American in Cal history, Anigwe pulled down 533 rebounds as a senior, the highest single-season rebounding total ever by a Pac-12 player.

Anigwe was the first Division I women’s player in 30 years to average over 22 points and 16 rebounds per game with totals of 22.3 points and 16.2 rebounds per game this season. She is Cal’s all-time leader in career points (2,591), rebounds (1,404) and blocks (205).

“We’re ecstatic she dropped (to No. 9),” Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller said. “I have had Anigwe going to Chicago at No. 4 for the past six weeks, so when she didn’t go at four, we had hope.”

In the second round, the Sun selected Bridget Carleton from Iowa State with the 21st overall pick. A native of Chatham, Ontario, she was the 2019 Cheryl Miller Award winner as the best small forward in Division I. She was the Big 12 Player of the Year and set school records for points scored (760), scoring average (21.7 ppg), field goals made (254) and field goal attempts (543) as a senior.

The Sun also made a trade on Wednesday night, receiving the draft rights to Natisha Hiedeman from the Minnesota Lynx for guard Lexie Brown.

The Lynx selected Hiedeman from Marquette University with the 18th overall pick. An honorable mention WBCA All-American, the guard was the unanimous Big East Player of the Year after averaging 17.6 points per game. She is Marquette’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals made with 301 and third on the all-time scoring list with 1,913 points.

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With their third and final pick of the evening, the Sun selected Regan Magarity from Virginia Tech with the 33rd overall pick. In 133 career games, the 6-foot-3 Magarity averaged 12.5 points and 9.8 rebounds, including career-highs of 14.1 points and 12.8 rebounds as a senior.

“It was a fantastic evening for the franchise,” Miller said. “We are ecstatic with our picks while also getting the rights to a fourth dynamic player. We’re excited to get to camp. This will be the most competitive camp we’ve had since my arrival and hope to use the momentum from camp into the regular season.”

The Sun will open the 2019 WNBA season on Saturday, May 25 against the Washington Mystics. Game time at Mohegan Sun Arena is set for 7:30 p.m. Visit ConnecticutSun.com or call 1-877-SUN-TIXX for more information or to purchase tickets.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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