Sky select Katie Lou Samuelson with fourth overall pick of 2019 WNBA Draft
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NEW YORK — It didn’t hit Katie Lou Samuelson until she took her seat Wednesday at Nike headquarters. She anxiously awaited to hear her name called at the WNBA Draft while sitting at a table with Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey, her coaches at Connecticut, and her sister Karlie, who plays for the Los Angeles Sparks.
To be honest, Samuelson had no idea where she would go. In most mock drafts, she was pegged to be toward the bottom of the first round. That’s why she just tried to remain optimistic.
‘‘I was pretty open to going anywhere in the draft with how strong this draft class is,’’ Samuelson told the Sun-Times. ‘‘Everyone kind of could have gone in any spot, so I was going to be OK if I was going to go lower.’’
So when WNBA chief operating officer Christin Hedgpeth announced the Sky had selected Samuelson with the fourth overall pick, she was dumbfounded. In her on-camera interview with ESPN, she was shaking.
‘‘It was kind of shocking,’’ Samuelson said. ‘‘I started sweating a little bit. This is definitely something I’ve been dreaming of, especially with my sister in the league. This is something I’ve always wanted to do.’’
There’s no denying Samuelson has the talent to be star in the league. She knows what it takes to win.
In her senior season with the Huskies, Samuelson — a two-time finalist for the Drysdale Award, which is given to the top shooting guard in women’s college basketball — averaged 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 34 games.
The Sky, who allowed a league-most 90.1 points per game last season, desperately needed a player with length to help them on defense. The 6-3 Samuelson has the size, though she admitted defense is an area she needs to improve.
‘‘I think making sure that I can be accountable for my team on defense, that’s a big weakness of mine, and learning how to use my length to help that,’’ she said. ‘‘Just using my length and just being able to impact in a way that they can put me in different positions. I’m just really excited and looking forward to getting started.’’
Samuelson has turned to her sister for advice on adjusting to the WNBA. Karlie was by her side as she went through the circus of post-draft requirements.
Karlie’s biggest advice to Samuelson was to take care of herself on and off the court.
‘‘Being ready to learn and knowing that it is a much tougher level,’’ Samuelson said. ‘‘Don’t go in there being too cocky or overconfident but still go in there and know what you’re able to do on the court. Those were some things she said.’’
Samuelson said she only had been to Chicago once — in high school.
‘‘It’s going to be a new kind of world for me, especially after being in Connecticut for a while,’’ Samuelson said. ‘‘I’m excited for it.’’