The 2017 WNBA Draft was relatively quiet for Cheryl Reeve and the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday night, yet the eighth-year head coach was pleased with the outcome at the end of the night.
The Lynx didn’t make any moves during Thursday’s draft and ended the night drafting three guards: Alexis Jones from Baylor, Lisa Berkani from France and Tahlia Tupaea from Australia.
Minnesota kicked off the night drafting Jones with the No. 12 pick, the final pick in the first round.
“As early as the third pick we were surprised, in that it was something we needed to have happen in order to land Alexis Jones at 12. We needed our draft board to be wrong and we were, which was good,” Reeve said in a press conference after the draft concluded. “There were a number of players we were interested in, so we continued to have that group and then one by one the group that we had left and that pushed somebody down to you. We were thrilled that it was Alexis. . . We like her versatility, we like her three ball. That’s something we’re after. She’s athletic and hopefully the biggest thing is she’s unafraid.”
Jones, a 5-foot-9 guard from Baylor, averaged 13.2 points, 4.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds in her seniors season with the Lady Bears. She concluded her career at Baylor ranking second in three-point field goal percentage (.411), fourth in assists per game (4.6 apg), eighth in three-point field goals made (132) and ninth in three-point field goal attempts (321).
The Irving, Texas native said she was thrilled to hear her named called in the draft and even more happy that the Lynx were the team that she is heading to.
“It’s going to be very difficult. It’s a veteran team and they are also a championship winning team. So it’s going to be very difficult for me,” Jones said. “I’m going to have to go in there and I’m going to have to play my role. Whatever role they give me, I’m going to play my role and just be the best that I can be in that role.
“I’m happy for this opportunity, I’m blessed. I couldn’t be more happy than right now.”
In the second round, the Lynx selected Berkani with the No. 24 overall pick. Berkani, a 5-9 guard from France, averaged 12.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and three assists per game with her club team USO Modeville this past season.
Berkani spent some time under new Lynx assistant coach James Wade and Reeve said Wade had nothing but high praise for Berkani.
“We’re fortunate that James, our new assistant, coached in France and coached Lisa and he sees a player that thinks, she would just be a sophomore in college where she’s at now and her ability to grow, he thinks she has a future in this league,” Reeve said. “The timing was right for us to take a stab at something like that.”
In the third and final round of the draft, Minnesota selected Tupaea with the No. 36 pick. Tupaea, a 5-9 guard from Australia, currently plays for the Sydney Uni Flames in the Women’s National Basketball League.
“We feel like from a roster standpoint, we have a really good balance. We’ve made some calls to some undrafted players to try and round out our training camp roster,” Reeve said. “We’ve done pretty well there, we are still in the hunt for a post player. That should be finished up here hopefully by Monday.”
The Lynx will kick off training camp on April 23rd. Along with their already talented roster, Reeve feels like Thursday’s draft picks will help make the Lynx even better.
“All you want, whoever it is, is to have a willingness to learn and work your tail off,” Reeve said. “If you do those two things, you have a chance to be successful.”