BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — Maya Moore is used to winning titles at Connecticut.
Now she’s ready to bring that same mentality to her new team — the Minnesota Lynx, who took her with the first pick in the WNBA Draft on Monday.
“Every year the goal is a championship,” she said. “That’s what I expect. I go on to every team expecting to win a championship, especially with the amount of talent we have. I don’t want to limit to the playoffs, I want to win a championship.”
She helped UConn win a record 90-straight games during one stretch over the past two seasons, and also led the school to two national championships in her stellar four-year career.
Her selection as No. 1 wasn’t much of a surprise.
“It feels really great to finally be able to have the moment of being drafted No. 1,” Moore said. “All the hype and excitement around it.”
Moore was followed in the draft by Elizabeth Cambage of Australia (Tulsa), Courtney Vandersloot of Gonzaga (Chicago), Amber Harris of Xavier (Minnesota) and Jantel Lavender of Ohio State (Los Angeles).
Moore, a four-time All-American, averaged 22.8 points this season. She was also the only collegian to play on the U.S. women’s national team that won gold at the world championships last October.
The two-time AP player of the year is used to having a lot of pressure put on her.
“I think I live in the land of high expectations after playing at Connecticut,” Moore said.
She is also the second straight UConn player to be taken with the first pick in the draft, and fourth overall. Tina Charles went to the Connecticut Sun last season and earned the league’s rookie of the year award.
Cambage was drafted second by the Shock. The 6-foot-8 phenom made a splash internationally at the world championship, where the 19-year-old was Australia’s leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points in that tournament.
She’s one of the youngest players taken in the WNBA draft, only a few months younger than countrymate Lauren Jackson, who was just under 20 when she was drafted in 2001 by Seattle.
“I don’t really think it’s an issue,” Cambage said of her age. “I’ll have a great lot of people looking after me in Tulsa. A lot of people think I’m in my 20s. I’m 19, a little baby, mature for my age.”
Cambage made the long trek from Australia to Bristol, Conn., for the draft. She’ll be counted on to turn around the Shock (6-28), who had the league’s worst record last year.
“This is the coolest moment right now,” she said.
Vandersloot, a point guard, helped lead the Zags to a berth in the regional final before they lost to Stanford. She is excited for a chance to play with Epiphanny Prince and Sylvia Fowles in Chicago.
“It’s a very good fit,” Vandersloot said. “They needed a point guard and (coach Pokey) Chatman is going to be able to teach me everything I don’t know already.”
The Lynx (13-21) took Harris with the fourth selection. Minnesota had the rights to the first pick last season before trading it to Connecticut with Renee Montgomery for Lindsay Whalen. The Sun also traded their first round pick this year to Minnesota, which turned out to be Harris, who led Xavier to the Atlantic 10 regular-season and conference tournament titles.
“A lot of us were in awe of her,” Moore said. “She’s athletic, tall, knows how to take over games when she needs to. I’m excited to compete and get on the court with her.”
Danielle Robinson of Oklahoma went sixth to San Antonio, and Tulsa took Kayla Pedersen of Stanford with the seventh pick. Xavier star Ta’Shia Phillips went eighth to Atlanta, which then traded her, guard Kelly Miller and a 2012 first-round draft pick to the Washington Mystics for guard Lindsey Harding and a second-round pick next year.
Rounding out the first round, it was: Stanford’s Jeanette Pohlen to Indianapolis at No. 9; Georgia Tech’s Alex Montgomery to New York at No. 10; Kentucky’s Victoria Dunlap to Washington at No. 11; and Duke’s Jasmine Thomas to Seattle at No. 12.
Texas A&M, which won the national championship last Tuesday, had guard Sydney Colson taken by Connecticut with the 16th pick, and center Danielle Adams went 20th to San Antonio.
“It’s crazy,” Colson said. “It seems like it all happened so quickly. Really, throughout your whole college career, all you want is to get a national championship.”
Colson was traded right after the draft ended to the New York Liberty for Kalana Greene.
Training camps open May 15. The WNBA’s 15th season begins June 3.
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