Lincoln - All-American Jordan Hooper became the third Husker in the last five years taken in the top 13 picks of the WNBA Draft, when she was chosen by the Tulsa Shock with first pick of the second round of the 2014 WNBA Draft on Monday.
Hooper, a 6-2 forward from Alliance, Neb., waited anxiously through the first round of the draft while watching with friends at a home in Lincoln. Once the draft moved from its live television home on ESPN2 to ESPNU, Hooper didn't have to wait long, as her name was called almost immediately.
"I am so excited about being picked in the draft and getting a chance to pursue the next stage of my basketball career," Hooper said. "Honestly, I don't know a lot about Tulsa other than they have some great young guards with Skylar Diggins and now Odyssey Sims. I love that Tulsa is in the Midwest and is about the closest of any WNBA team to Nebraska, so fans from my hometown of Alliance and fans across the state of Nebraska, especially here in Lincoln, might get some chances to watch me play in person."
Hooper, a 6-2 forward from Alliance, Neb., becomes the latest in a string of WNBA draft picks for Coach Connie Yori and the Big Red. Since 2007, five Huskers have been chosen in the three rounds of the WNBA Draft. Hooper is the first Husker to ever be picked in the second round.
"I don't really care that I didn't get picked in the first round, but I am excited about being picked high in the second round. To me, it meant that Tulsa wanted me and recognized that I can help make them a better basketball team in some way," Hooper said. "My focus right now is to get to work to make the roster and hopefully find a way to make some significant contributions, whether it is scoring, rebounding, setting great screens or playing good defense. I just want to do what it takes to help us win games."
Tulsa finished the 2013 season with an 11-23 record, while featuring WNBA All-Rookie point guard Skylar Diggins. The Shock took another first-team All-America point guard with the No. 2 overall pick of this year's draft when they chose Baylor's Odyssey Sims.
Hooper not only has experience going against Sims when the two were freshmen in the Big 12 Conference, but they also started alongside each other on the USA Basketball World University Games Team that won gold in Russia in the summer of 2013.
"I am extremely excited for Jordan and it is certainly well-deserved," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "She is going to a team with some great young guards who will find ways to get her the ball and help her be successful. She is also going to a team where she has an excellent chance to make their roster and hopefully make an immediate impact."
In addition to newcomers Hooper and Sims, the Shock will feature first-year head coach Fred Williams, who spent the past six seasons with the Atlanta Dream, including the last two as their head coach. He helped the Dream to WNBA Finals appearances in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
"I am very excited about Jordan joining our team, she is a winner," Williams said. “I look forward to working with her on the basketball court. She will help our transition game with her high percentage shooting and post-up game."
Shock President Steve Swetoha said Hooper's outside game could be a big plus for Tulsa.
“Jordan is a player who can shoot the three and be able to create a post-up game with her size at the three or four position,” Swetoha said. “She is going to surprise some people with her three-point shot as well. We are excited to have her in Tulsa.
A first-team All-American by the WBCA, Hooper was the 2014 Big Ten Player of the Year. The three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection also earned her second career spot on the Big Ten All-Tournament Team after leading Nebraska to its first-ever conference tournament title. The school-record holder with 295 career three-pointers, Hooper is the only Husker and just the second Big Ten player in history to achieve the combined milestones of 2,300 points and 1,100 rebounds.
In 2013, point guard Lindsey Moore was taken by the Minnesota Lynx with the final pick of the first round (12th overall). Moore went on to win a WNBA title with the Lynx in her first season in the league.
Kelsey Griffin is the highest Husker draft pick in history, as she was chosen with the No. 3 overall pick in the WNBA Draft by the Lynx in 2010. Griffin, a 6-2 forward, was traded by the Lynx to Connecticut on draft day and has spent the past four seasons with the Sun. Griffin was a WNBA All-Rookie selection in 2010 and enjoyed her most productive season in the league as a full-time starter for the Sun in 2013.
Hooper expects to report to training camp on April 27, before earning her bachelor's degree in psychology from Nebraska on Saturday, May 10. The Shock will play a pair of preseason games against the San Antonio Silver Stars before opening the regular season at San Antonio on Saturday, May 17.
The Shock will play their second regular-season game against Minnesota and former Husker point guard Lindsey Moore on Friday, May 23 at the BOK Center in Tulsa at 7 p.m.
Nebraska WNBA Draft History
- *Jordan Hooper (2nd Round, Tulsa Shock, 2014)
- *Lindsey Moore (1st Round, Minnesota Lynx, 2013)
- *Kelsey Griffin (1st Round, Minnesota Lynx, 2010)
- *Cory Montgomery (3rd Round, New York Liberty, 2010)
- *Kiera Hardy (3rd Round, Connecticut Sun, 2007)
- *Nicole Kubik (1st Round, LA Sparks, 2000)
Other Huskers in the WNBA
- *Danielle Page (Free Agent, Connecticut Sun, 2008)
- Anna DeForge (Two-Time WNBA All-Star, 2000-08)
- *Yvonne Turner (Training Camp Contract, San Antonio Silver Stars, 2013)
*denotes Husker coached by Connie Yori