(AP) – Charli Collier said she wrote down goals with her late father when he was hospitalized with cancer five years ago, and being selected No. 1 in the WNBA draft was one of them.
She checked off that goal on Thursday night when the Dallas Wings took her with the first pick.
“He’s here with me. He’s with me in the moment," Collier said of her dad, who died in 2016. “My dad is so proud of me. Wish he could see this in real life. Nothing can take this moment away from me.”
The Wings also had the No. 2 pick and a rare opportunity to transform the franchise. They chose Awak Kuier, who became the the first Finnish player to be drafted in the WNBA.
It’s the first time in league history that a team had picks No. 1 and 2. The Wings acquired the top pick in a February trade after being awarded the second choice in the draft lottery.
“Needless to say, we are thrilled with the results of the draft for our organization,” Wings president and general manager Greg Bibb said. “We took another big step forward tonight with the progress of our team. Obviously with drafting Charli and Awak we got the two best players in the draft.”
The 6-foot-5 Collier helped the Longhorns reach the Elite Eight. The junior center finished the season averaging 19.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 51.1% from the field.
The 19-year-old Kuier played professionally in Italy, averaging 8.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.