When he was hired last October, Mike Thibault, the new coach and general manager of the Washington Mystics, insisted the No. 4 pick in the WNBA draft wasn’t such a bad thing.
The Mystics finished with the WNBA’s worst record last season only to miss out on the chance to select three potential franchise players in Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Della Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins. But Thibault believes another difference maker was playing in Columbus, Ohio.
The Mystics chose Ohio State guard Tayler Hill with the No. 4 overall pick in the first round of the 2013 WNBA draft in Bristol, Conn., Monday, hopeful that the 5-foot-10 Minneapolis native can contribute immediately to a roster that has lacked a consistent scoring threat on the wing.
“You don’t have very many good ones come along that often that have a chance to be great,” Thibault said from Verizon Center. “I think that Tayler Hill has a chance to be a star.”
Hill, whose cousin is former NBA player Devean George, piqued Washington’s interest because of the diversity in her game. A two-time honorable mention all-American, Hill averaged 21.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game to earn all-Big Ten first team and all-Big Ten defensive team honors this past season. Thibault said she would battle for minutes at next month’s training camp with returning players Matee Ajavon, Monique Currie and Natalie Novosel.
Hill said that Thibault “really likes that I’m fearless and I can score in multiple ways and that I’m a threat on the offensive and defensive end. He said, ‘You can really trust a player when you know they can play defense.’ ”
Washington set the stage for Thibault’s initial selection earlier in the day by acquiring 6-5 center Quanitra Hollingsworth from the New York Liberty in exchange for a third-round draft choice (No. 25 overall). Hollingsworth, a 2009 first-round pick from Virginia Commonwealth, is averaging 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds as a member of the Turkish national team this year and won’t join the Mystics until July.
Washington also selected St. John’s point guard Nadira McKenith (No. 17 overall) and 6-4 Belgian center Emma Meesseman (No. 19 overall) with its two second-round draft picks.
As expected, the Phoenix Mercury chose Griner with the No. 1 pick and Della Donne was the No. 2 overall selection by the Chicago Sky. Diggins was taken third by the Tulsa Shock.
Among local players, Maryland forward and Washington native Tianna Hawkins was selected No. 6 overall by the Seattle Storm. Georgetown’s Sugar Rodgers was chosen with the No. 14 overall pick in the second round by the Minnesota Lynx.