By Dorothy J. Gentry
Photos: WNBA/Dallas Wings
The Dallas Wings have missed the playoffs for the past two years. They hope their fortunes changed and they can return to playoff contention after Thursday night’s WNBA draft.
The franchise became the first team in history to make both the #1 and #2 overall pick after drafting Charli Collier from the University of Texas with the first overall pick and Awak Kuier from Finland with the second pick. The Wings also chose Chelsea Dungee from Arkansas with the fifth pick and Dana Evans from Louisville with the 13th overall pick.
“I’m very excited about our 2021 draft class,” said Dallas Wings President and CEO Greg Bibb. “I feel confident the addition of tonight’s draft class, along with the trio of players who joined the organization last year, gives us a strong foundation moving forward.
“With this group joining our young and talented core roster, we are bullish on the future of the Dallas Wings organization.”
Upon hearing her name, Collier pointed to the sky.
“It’s my God. My God is so good. Every day I wake up with this passion. I love basketball,” she said. “My heart is racing right now. I worked so hard for this moment.”
For her, the selection as the first pick should also silence the naysayers.
“A lot of people have a lot to say about me but you can never question my work ethic,” she said of fans who throughout the season would label her ‘overrated.’ “I deserve to be here and I’m built for it. Hate me or love me you gotta respect me either way. This is the game I love. I grind each and every day for this. This is my moment.”
Collier became the first player in WNBA history to be drafted first overall from the University of Texas and the second from the Lone Star State behind Brittney Griner, out of Baylor in 2013. The native Houstonian declared for the draft as a junior after she led her team to the Elite Eight, averaging a double-double with 13.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Collier was All-Big 12, an Academic All-Big 12 and a Lisa Leslie Award Top- 10 finalist as well.
With the second pick the Wings chose Kuier who will be the first Finnish player to take to the court for the WNBA. She is also just the sixth player in draft history to be taken in the top five without NCAA experience. She currently plays for Ragusa in Italy with fellow Wing’s frontcourt member Isabelle Harrison, and the Finnish draftee is averaging 8.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Dungee made nearly 2,000 points in her three years at the University of Arkansas while shooting 40% from the field and 35.4% from beyond the three-point arc. A WBCA All American and Ann Meyer’s Drysdale Award Finalist, the Razorback also shone on the Dallas Wings look to Take Flight After Historic WNBA Draft defensive side of the ball, averaging 1.5 steals per game, and racking up 34 blocks during her three years in Fayetteville.
Evans helped lead Louisville to the Elite Eight averaging 20.1 points and 3.9 assists per game. The Cardinal also shot the ball well, making 37.7% of her threes and completing a total of 222 triples. During her four collegiate years, Evans was named a ESPNW and Sports Illustrated First Team All-American, twice the ACC Player of the Year and was a Naismith Trophy Semifinalist.
WNBA Training Camp is tentatively scheduled to begin April 25. The season starts May 14. The Dallas Wings are entering its sixth season in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. They play their games at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.