Dunlap Selected by Washington Mystics in First Round of WNBA Draft

April 11, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky All-American Victoria Dunlap was the 11th overall selection in the 2011 WNBA Draft as she was chosen by the Washington Mystics in the first round on Monday at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

Dunlap, UK's No. 2 all-time leading scorer and rebounder, is the highest draft pick in school history. The previous high was Shantia Owens (1999-2000) who was the 53rd pick in the third round of the 2000 WNBA Draft.

Dunlap was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by The Associated Press and SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the league coaches as one of the nation's most versatile players. She ranked in the top half of eight SEC statistical categories, including leading the league in scoring (17.0), field-goal percentage (.458) and steals per game (3.0). She also ranked fourth in rebounds per game (8.7) and fifth in blocks (1.5) and free-throw shooting percentage (.704). She was the only player in the SEC to rank in the top five in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals.

Dunlap's path led her to the WNBA (including video of draft selection)

Dunlap scored double figures in 31 of 33 games, including 22 consecutive in her senior season. With nine double-doubles and 12 games with 20 or more points, she helped lead the 17th-ranked Wildcats to their second straight 20-win season (25-9) and second straight NCAA appearance for the first time since the 1982-83 teams accomplished that feat.

"We are just so proud for Victoria," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "She's worked extremely hard and to be a first-round draft choice is a testament to how hard she's worked and improved during her time at Kentucky. We are proud of her. It's also a special day for our program. To have the first, first- round draft in school history is special. It's been an incredible day."

Dunlap ended her illustrious Wildcat career ranking in the top 10 on numerous career lists, including No. 1 in games played (133) and No. 2 in scoring (1,846), rebounding (1,099), blocks (178), steals (307), free-throws made (445), free-throws attempted (714) and double-doubles (31). She was the first player in school history to chart more than 100 assists, 100 blocks and 300 steals in her career and just the second player with more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.

Washington will play two preseason games beginning Wednesday, May 25 vs. New York in the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., at 10:30 a.m. EDT followed by a home preseason matchup vs. Chicago on Thursday, May 26 at 11:30 a.m. EDT. The Mystics, coached by former N.C. State standout Trudi Lacey, begin regular-season play with back-to-back road games, meeting Connecticut on Saturday, June 4 at 7 p.m. EDT and Atlanta on Thursday, June 9 at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN2. The home opener is Saturday, June 11 vs. Chicago at 7 p.m. EDT. The Mystics play in Washington D.C.'s Verizon Center. For more information visit WashingtonMystics.com.

Quotes from Dunlap on Selection

On how excited she is to go to the WNBA ...
"(I'm) very excited. The opportunity finally came for me and I am just going to take it from here. "

On if she expected Washington to pick her ...
"Not at all. I was very surprised. I was sitting there kind of anxious not knowing where I was going to go, but they chose me and I was like `whoo, thank you!'"

On John Wall sending her a message ...
"He just text me to tell me congratulations and that he was really excited for me."

On what team she was expecting to pick her ...
"Sometimes you hear things. People have mock drafts. There was a time where people were saying I was going to San Antonio or even Atlanta. But you can't be for sure until the draft actually happens."

On going first round in the WNBA draft ...
"I didn't know. People tell you that you are for sure going (to the WNBA) first round, but to me it didn't really matter, as long as I had the opportunity to go somewhere."

On her thoughts during the draft ...
"I was okay before the draft started, but once I started see people going it kind of got more and more nervous for me. I know I was really anxious. I kept looking at my mom and I kept looking at Coach Mitchell thinking `is my name going to be called?' It was fun though."

On the anxiety she felt during the draft ...
"I think I started getting anxious around the third or fourth (name that was called). Just because once you start seeing people going, you start thinking, `okay, when is my name going to be called?' But I think it was just a consistent nervousness."

On the prospect of playing overseas ...
"Most likely, (I will). Usually the women who play in the WBNA will go overseas and get the opportunity to play there."

On being a trending topic on Twitter ...
"Somebody told me that. I didn't even know what that meant, because I don't use Twitter like that, but I guess that is a great honor for people to recognize me. Thank you for the support."

On the thoughts of graduating and being a professional basketball player...
"It's so exciting. Four years of school and now I just get to play basketball and do what I love. It's not (tough to finish out my classes). I just have to stay focused and remember things like why I was here in the first place and that is to go to school and be a student-athlete. So I am going to stay focused on school and continue to keep my grades up."

On next year's Kentucky team ...
"First, I think Amber (Smith) is going to be a great asset for the team. She's coming back, so that means she is going to be a great leader for them. The freshmen who will be sophomores and everybody else coming in, I think they will help be a great asset for the team as well. Still, they are a fast-paced, up-tempo team who pushes the ball. It's going to be good."

On her development over the years ...
"I have come a long way. I didn't even think this opportunity would be able to happen for me just because I didn't really have that mindset of being able to get myself in the gym as much as I ended up doing. Making myself better (to become) SEC Player of the Year, I never thought that would happen. The coaches have definitely pushed me and pushed my mentality to become that way and I am thankful of them for being there for me."

On how the coaches have pushed her over the years ...
"They told me either I had a choice of whether I was going to help out the team or I wasn't and that helping out the team meant getting in the gym and getting more shots up, getting the extra things, doing the little things. I definitely didn't want to let my teammates down, so that is what I decided to do."

On her contact with the Washington Mystics coaches ...
"After I got drafted, we had a whole bunch of interviews set up. So, the coaches were some of the first people that I talked to. (The coach for the Mystics) said she was really excited for me. And I told her I was excited as well. And they were looking forward to me being at training camp."

On her contact with the other Washington players ...
"I haven't talked to any players, but a couple of the players tweeted me saying they are happy for me to be a Washington Mystic. I think I fit in great. I talked to the coaches (and they said) they were a kind of up-tempo team, kind of the way we played here at Kentucky. And she was very impressed with the way I rebounded and played defense."

On when she started thinking she could play in the WNBA ...
"The end of my sophomore year and beginning of my junior year. The coaches definitely pushed me to get to where I am now. And I think I just took it in and decided to make that a challenge for me. And it's happening now."

On getting an invitation to ESPN studios for the draft ...
"I was surprised. I didn't even think about that. Actually, I didn't really know how the draft was going to work because I have never seen a WNBA draft before. But I was very excited and definitely happy for the opportunity."

On who was with her at the draft ...
"The two people sitting at the table (with me) were my mom and Coach (Matthew) Mitchell. And then there was a viewing room where I had Carly Morrow, two of my aunts and Coach (Matt) Insell."

On how being a first-round draft pick will help the UK Hoops program in the future ...
"To show people that even though I didn't come out of high school being the McDonald's All-American and wasn't the best player coming out of high school, anybody can come into a program like this and help change it. As long as they are working hard and are willing to sacrifice themselves for the program, it is worth it in the end. "