When Notre Dame’s Natalie Novosel and LSU’s LaSondra Barrett were chatting Monday afternoon in Bristol, Conn., minutes before the 2012 WNBA draft was set to start, they began to reminisce about how far each had come since their days playing AAU basketball together for the Tennessee Flight.
Barrett pointed out they were almost like “little babies” back then, and Novosel called it a “full circle” moment with the two of them set to become first-round draft picks after going their separate ways for college. Never, though, did the prospect of playing together again come up.
But the two will have another reunion in Washington later this month after the Mystics selected Novosel with the No. 8 overall pick Monday and minutes later drafted Barrett with the No. 10 selection.
“We had some great AAU days and we were so close,” Barrett said. “But it never crossed my mind, which is the craziest part.”
Added Novosel: “It definitely caught us by surprise, but I can’t wait to play with her again.”
A hard-nosed guard, the 5-11 Novosel averaged 15.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a senior when the Fighting Irish made the national championship game for a second year in a row. She also shot better than 41 percent from three-point range, a facet General Manager and Coach Trudi Lacey said before the draft that she hoped to address.
Lacey said she became intrigued with Novosel after Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw called her “the most mentally tough player she’s ever coached.”
Barrett, who is a cousin of former Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell and goes by the nickname “Boogie,” averaged a team-high 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds for LSU this past season. But it’s her versatility that should make her a good fit in Washington.
At 6-2, Barrett can guard all five positions on the floor and hit the outside jump shot, assets Lacey has sought in many of her offseason acquisitions this year. On Monday, Novosel called Barrett “a silent assassin because you don’t realize how good she is until you’re playing her.”
“What they add to our roster is depth at positions where we need some depth,” said Lacey, who didn’t know about Novosel and Barrett’s days as AAU teammates until after selecting them. “They both have a multiple skill set that can help us.”
Washington also selected Maryland guard Anjale Barrett and forward Briana Gilbreath of USC with the No. 26 and No. 35 overall picks, respectively, in the third round of the draft.
The Mystics traded their original pick in this year’s first round last April to Minnesota in exchange for center Nicky Anosike, who was dealt to Los Angeles last month after an unsuccessful season in Washington. The pick turned into the No. 3 selection after the Mystics finished with a 6-28 record in 2011, and the defending WNBA champion Lynx used it to choose Notre Dame forward Devereaux Peters.
Washington was able to select Novosel and Barrett because of other 2011 trades with the Atlanta Dream and Seattle Shock.
As expected, the Los Angeles Sparks selected Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogwumike with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Maryland’s Lynetta Kizer was taken by the Tulsa Shock with the No. 28 overall pick in the third round.