Devereaux Peters admitted Monday she was surprised the Minnesota Lynx took her third overall in the 2012 WNBA Draft. Excited as she was to join the defending champions, the 6-foot-2 forward out of Notre Dame simply didnt expect to be taken so high.
It was a complete and total shock, Peters said.
But in talking with Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, the selection went according to plan. Reeve said the team has watched Peters extensively for two years while with the Irish and had the skill set they were looking for: A selfless player who can rebound the basketball, play solid defense and have the ability to both be a role player and learn from the veterans on the depth chart early in her career.
Not to mention Peters is coming from a Notre Dame squad that went to two straight NCAA championship games and has a genuine excitement about joining the organization. Shes a player that drastically changed the way the Irish played while on the floor, Reeve said, yet was willing to let Skylar Diggins and Natalie Novosel do the majority of the scoring.
The separator for us is Devereaux would be excited to come join the champion and understand, again, she deferred again at Notre Dame, Reeve said. The adjustment isnt going to be that great for her.
Peters main objective in her rookie season will be to learn from Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the 14-year veteran who joked with Reeve on Monday that the team will need to replace her in the future.
I got an e-mail from Taj today saying, Coach, Im old, and we ought to think about replacing her at some point, Reeve said. So we took her advice and we thought Devereaux Peters best resembles Taj.
A two-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year and All-BIG EAST First Team member, Peters finished her career as only the second player in school history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 150 blocks and 150 steals. She finished her career averaging 10.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.7 steals in 22.3 minutes per contest.
As a senior last season, Peters helped lead the Irish to their second NCAA Championship game in as many seasons. She was a finalist for the WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year as well as an AP All-American honorable mention. Johnson finished the season as the only BIG EAST player to rank in the top ten in the conference in the three major defensive categories, ranking first in rebounding, third in blocked shots (2.0 bpg) and ninth in steals (2.0 spg).
Im just extremely excited that I got picked by Minnesota, Peters said. I cant wait to get out there and start training camp and do whatever I can to already continue the amazing squad they have over there.
Reeve and Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith said Peters will need to improve her scoring as well as cut down on her fouls. Shes been known to get into foul trouble during her college career. Reeve said shes improved greatly in her senior season.
We really think shes a winner, Griffith said. We really think she fits so well into our system and is going to be able to come in from Day 1 and do the things we need to do to be successful.
Rounding out the draft
Peters was the headliner on a day in which the Lynx had six draft pickstwo in the first round, three in the second and one in the third. The Lynx took center Damiris Dantas out of Brazil with the 12th pick, forward Julie Wojta from Wisconsin-Green Bay with the 18th pick, forward Kayla Standish from Gonzaga with the 19th pick, guard Nika Baric from Slovenia with the 20th pick and guard Jacki Gemelos from Southern California with the 31st pick.
Griffith said the teams biggest goal for this years draft, particularly with all its draft picks, was to build for the future. With only one roster spot open heading into camp, being able to defer picks for future seasons was an important piece of the puzzle.
That way the Lynx can hold onto players rights with hopes they will develop and join the team down the road.
More than anything what is significant is we have nine of the 11 [players from last year] back, Reeve said. Often times what happens to championship teams is you have free agency and then maybe a key piece, whether its a starter or a bench player, you might lose those pieces.
Dantas, Baric and Gemelos all are deferred picksDantas and Baric being international players, and Gemelos coming off a knee injury in December. Griffith said the timeline for these players possibly coming to play for the Lynx is not an immediate concern. The biggest thing will be agreeing on both sides when the right time will be.
That all depends on their development, their situation with their national teams, and its something we talked about, Griffith said. There is some discussion even after the 2016 Olympics. Thats not a timeline that scares us, either. Were talking about 19-year-olds. Even after the Olympics, theyre just 24.
Meanwhile, Reeve said she expects both Wojta and Standish to compete with the rest of the players at camp and fight for that lone open roster spot.
She said Wojta fared well in all the statistical ratings the Lynx give players, and that her tenacity as a defender and versatility on the floor will give her a good chance to compete for a roster spot.
She plays the 4, but she will be a 3 in the WNBA and I think youll find shes a great competitor, Reeve said. And we fully expect her to come in here and try to make our decision on the final roster spot very difficult.
Standish is a face-up power forward who can pass, Reeve said, and shell get her shot to show the coaching staff what she can do.
Shes a great player that has had a really nice career and messed up my pool in both years in the field of 64, Reeve joked. So Im a believer in Gonzaga.
Meet the Lynx last 5 draft picks
A 19-year old from Brazil, Dantas (6-4, center) was named MVP of the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Chile. Dantas led Brazil to a bronze medal, its first medal at the U19 World Championship, averaging tournament-highs of 20.9 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. Her play earned her a position on the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship team, where she faced off with the best competition in the world including Lynx players Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen. She finished the competition second on Brazil with 10.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. Most recently, Dantas played for Real Celta Vigo in the Spanish Liga Femenina de Balconesto (LFB), averaging a team-high 13.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
Wojta, a 6-0 forward out of Wisconsin-Green Bay, led the Horizon League with 19.5 points and 3.8 steals per game last season while leading Wisconsin-Green Bay to its first Sweet Sixteen appearance in school history. She led the Phoenix to a school-record 34 victories, Horizon League regular season and tournament championships and two NCAA tournament wins before ultimately losing to the NCAA Champion Baylor Bears. Wojta was named an AP Second Team All-American, becoming the first player in program history to earn All-American status.
Standish, a 6-2 forward out of Gonzaga, led the Bulldogs in points (16.4 ppg), rebounds (7.5 rpg) and blocks (1.5 bpg) last season en route to being named to the All-West Coast Conference First Team for the second consecutive year. As a junior in 2010-11, Standish started all 36 games for the Bulldogs, reaching double-figures in 31 games, topping the 20-point mark 12 times. She became one of just five players in Gonzaga history to score 600-plus points in a season, finishing the year with 617 total points.
A 19-year old from Slovenia, Nika Baric (5-7, guard) is currently playing overseas with Lynx guard Seimone Augustus on Spartak V MR in the Russia PBL. In Russian play Baric is averaging 4.7 points and 2.3 assists in 14.9 minutes per contest while coming off the bench for Spartak. Previously Baric has represented Slovenia on the international level, appearing in the FIBA U19 World Championship in 2011. In the competition she led Slovenia with 3.3 assists per game while ranking second on the team in both points (13.7 ppg) and rebounds (5.0 rpg).
Gemelos, a 6-0 guard out of the University of Southern California, averaged 11.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in nine games this season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in December. After battling injuries for much of her collegiate career, she appeared in 37 games (28 starts) during the 2010-11 season, averaging 11.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per contest. Her play earned her a 2011 All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention selection, and she was named to the 2011 Pac-10 All-Academic First Team.
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