2022 WNBA Draft: Round-by-round picks, highlights and quotes

2022 WNBA Draft: Rhyan Howard was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, selected by the Atlanta Dream
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During the 2022 WNBA Draft, On Her Turf was on-site at Spring Studios in New York to provide live updates. See below to relive how this year’s WNBA Draft unfolded, including a round-by-round summary of draft picks.

2022 WNBA Draft – Live Updates and Highlights:

Draft Pick No. 1: With the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, the Atlanta Dream selects Rhyne Howard. Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy has called Howard a “once-in-a-lifetime” player.

“To go first, I don’t even have words for it right now,” Howard said of being the No. 1 overall draft pick. “I’m proud of what I’ve done and proud of myself.”

Throughout her final season with Kentucky, Howard said she tried not to think too much about her future in the WNBA.

“During the season I kind of blocked it out. I wanted to be there for my team and focus on where my shoes were, and I knew that wouldn’t have been possible if I was focusing on the next level,” she said.

No. 2: As predicted, with the second pick of the draft, the Indiana Fever picks up Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith. She’ll be part of a big growing year for the Fever, a team that has seven picks in this year’s WNBA Draft (including four in the first round).

“We have four top picks, so it’s a chance and an opportunity for this team to grow tremendously,” Smith said.

No. 3:  The Washington Mystics select Shakira Austin of Ole Miss.

“I feel like I got lucky,” Austin said of being selected by a team with a deep veteran core that includes players like Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud.

“I feel like it’s just the best opportunity possible for me to learn and take my time but also learn from the best. That’s a championship-level team, and that’s where I’m meant to be.”

Austin has plans to be one of those big names one day, telling media she is going to have a long career in the league.

“The people in the league right now who are big-time stars, they’re built like me. They’re tall, they’re lengthy, they’re versatile, they’re not strictly limited to back to the basket or post moves. I think just watching the game and watching how the different players have spotlighted over the past couple years, that’s why I feel like I’m going to be successful,” Austin said.

No. 4: With their second pick of seven tonight, the Indiana Fever select Emily Engstler, who transferred from Syracuse to Louisville ahead of the 2021-22 NCAA season. Her stock really rose during the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, helping Louisville reach the Final Four in Minneapolis.

After the Cardinals lost in the NCAA semifinals last week, Hailey Van Lith made sure to talk up Engstler and Kianna Smith to any WNBA coaches or GMs who were listening:

“You look at all the intangibles they bring… how they just elevated everyone else and made everyone else a better player. You can’t teach that, and they naturally have that, and that’s why they’re going to be drafted really soon,” Van Lith said.

No. 5: With the fifth overall pick, the New York Liberty selects Oregon’s Nyara Sabally.

“It’s amazing to get drafted by New York. This city is amazing, the organization is amazing. It’s just very surreal, and I’m super excited,” she said.

Nyara was on a zoom call with her sister Satou of the Dallas Wings when her name was called. “I saw her face. She was very excited,” Nyara said.

No. 6: With their third pick of the night – and the sixth overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft – the Indiana Fever selects Stanford’s Lexie Hull.

No. 7: The Dallas Wings pick Northwestern’s Veronica Burton. “These are the moments that you dream about as a young woman, as a young girl,” she said.

While Burton wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school, she credits her underdog mentality with helping her reach the WNBA.

“I think that chip on my shoulder is what got me here,” she said. “But obviously I went to the right place at Northwestern, and I hope that’s the same with Dallas. I think it really comes down to the place and the fit and my mindset, and that mindset has certainly not changed. I just want to continue to get better and better. That’s in my control, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

No. 8: In the biggest surprise of the night so far, the Las Vegas Aces select Colorado’s Mya Hollingshed.

No. 9: The Los Angeles Sparks select Tennessee’s Rae Burrell as the No. 9 overall pick.

“This is probably one of the best days of my life,” Burrell said.

Hailing from Las Vegas, Burrell said she hopes to inspire the next generation of kids in that community.

“Vegas for the longest time got overlooked, so I’m just happy to pave the way for future ballers that want to take the same journey that I did,” she said. “I hope they see that working hard can turn your dreams into reality.”

No. 10: Indiana Fever selects Queen Egbo, the second Baylor player drafted by the Fever so far tonight.

No. 11: Kierstan Bell of Florida Gulf Coast University is headed to Las Vegas.

“It’s an honor to be under a coach like that,” Bell said of being drafted by new Aces head coach Becky Hammon.

“I did get a little nervous,” she said of being the second-to-last pick of the first round, noting that she hadn’t spoken to Las Vegas prior to being drafted.

Looking ahead, Bell said she hopes her versatility serves her well.

“I know it’s going to be a lot of new things that I have to adjust to, but I’m willing to be open-minded and be comfortable with being in uncomfortable positions, and that’s why I think that sets me apart from a lot of people because I’m never comfortable being satisfied.”

No. 12: With the final pick of the first round, the Connecticut Sun selects Michigan State’s Nia Clouden.

“Connecticut was high on my radar. I had some great conversations with Coach Curt Miller,” Clouden said. “So when I knew that I was still around at 12, I wasn’t surprised when they picked me.”

As for the deep roster the Sun has heading into training camp, Clouden says she wants to learn as much as she can.

“Connecticut has some really great players – Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas and more – so just being able to learn from them and then just work and keep working and working and working, and that’s what I plan to do.”

2022 WNBA Draft – Second Round Draftees:

Draft Pick No. 13: The Las Vegas Aces select LSU guard Khayla Pointer.

No. 14: The Washington Mystics select UConn’s Christyn Williams.

No. 15: The Atlanta Dream picks Michigan forward Naz Hillmon.

“I’m just excited to be here,” Hillmon said of being picked in the second round instead of the first. “Being disappointed in this moment is neglectful to the people who weren’t picked up at all.”

No. 16: The Los Angeles Sparks draft Louisville guard Kianna Smith.

No. 17: Elissa Cunane of NC State is drafted by the Seattle Storm.

“I didn’t have many expectations coming in tonight. I know that it is a very tough league to get into,” Cunane said. “I was just excited to hear my name called.”

RELATED: The sad reality of the WNBA Draft

No. 18: With a second straight pick, the Seattle Storm selects Georgia Tech’s Lorela Cubaj. Shortly after Cubaj was drafted by the Storm, she was traded to the New York Liberty in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft.

No. 19: The Los Angeles Sparks draft UConn’s Olivia Nelson-Ododa.

No. 20: The Indiana Fever selects Destanni Henderson. While Henderson was predicted to go earlier in the draft, she’s lucky the Fever snatched her up instead of the Storm, Sparks, or another team with loaded roster.

“It’s been crazy, but good crazy,” Henderson said of the whirlwind of winning the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball title to being drafted into the WNBA.

As for being drafted by Indiana in the second round, Henderson says she tried to enter the night without too many expectations.

“I was just staying positive about the outcome and whichever order that it went, it really didn’t matter,” she said. “Just hearing my name was my outcome, and I got that tonight.”

No. 21: UConn’s Evina Westbrook is drafted by the Seattle Storm.

No. 22: The Minnesota Lynx select NC State’s Kayla Jones.

No. 23: Virginia Tech’s Aisha Sheppard is selected by the Las Vegas Aces.

No. 24: Baylor guard Jordan Lewis is drafted by the Connecticut Sun.

2022 WNBA Draft – Third Round Picks:

No. 25: Jackson State center Ameshya Williams-Holliday is drafted by the Indiana Fever. Williams-Holliday is the first player from an HBCU drafted into the WNBA since 2002.

No. 26: Notre Dame’s Maya Dodson is drafted by the Phoenix Mercury.

No. 27: University of Hawaii forward Amy Atwell is picked by the Los Angeles Sparks.

No. 28: South Dakota’s Hannah Sjerven is selected by the Minnesota Lynx.

No. 29: 19-year-old Sika Kone of Mali is drafted by the New York Liberty.

Ahead of Sue Bird‘s 21st year in the WNBA (and 19th season playing), here’s a fun fact to put her longevity into perspective:

No. 30: Delaware’s Jasmine Dickey is selected by the Dallas Wings.

No. 31: North Florida’s Jazz Bond is selected by the Dallas Wings.

No. 32: IUPUI’s Macee Williams is drafted by the Phoenix Mercury.

No. 33: Australia’s Jade Melbourne, 19, is selected by the Seattle Storm.

No. 34: Indiana guard Ali Patberg is drafted by the Indiana Fever.

No. 35: LSU’s Faustine Aifuwa is selected by the Las Vegas Aces.

No. 36: Florida guard Kiara Smith is drafted by the Connecticut Sun.

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Kaillie Humphries elevates another fresh U.S. face to podium status in two-woman bobsled World Cup

Kaillie Humphries of USA, Kaysha Love of USA in action at the 2 women's bobsleigh during Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
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PARK CITY, UTAH – Kaillie Humphries extended her podium streak on Saturday at the IBSF World Cup, where she and U.S. push athlete Jasmine Jones finished third in the two-woman bobsled.

The third-place finish in Park City marked the sixth podium for Humphries at the Park City track, which hosted the 2002 Olympics, and was Jones’ career-first World Cup podium in just her second World Cup start.

“This is our first race together, so really excited about that,” said the 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships titles. She earned her 29th career World Cup win on Friday in Park City in the women’s monobob.

“Definitely a work in progress. … The runs weren’t perfect, but I’m really happy with our starts, happy with our drives minus a few little mistakes. It’s a good starting point, and we’ll look to grow from here.”

Humphries and Jones finished with a combined, two-run time of 1:37.69, 0.32 behind winners Kim Kalicki and brakewoman Leonie Fiebig of Germany at 1:37.37. Fellow Germans Laura Nolte and Lena Neunecker were second at 0.23 back.

Kalicki and Fiebig broke a 16-year-old track record with their first run, laying down a time of 48.60 seconds and besting the time set by Americans Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming – the 2006 Olympic silver medalists – in December 2006 (48.73). It also marked the second straight victory for Kalicki, who’s won five career World Cup titles including last week’s two-woman bobsled race in Whistler, Canada.

“I was hoping Kaillie would get [the record],” said Rohbock, who is now a U.S. team coach and was on hand to see her record fall. “That first run there, she had that little skid in the bottom, so that didn’t help, but Kailee’s always putting up a great performance. And Jasmine, another great brakewoman, so we’re really lucky that we have that depth.”

For Team USA, it marked the second straight week that a fresh face earned her first podium finish while competing with Humphries. Last week in Whistler, push athlete Emily Renna and Humphries placed third in Renna’s first-ever World Cup appearance.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP COVERAGE: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“Being able to race with her was really special,” said the 29-year-old Renna, who was a college track athlete at University of Rhode Island. “It’s really nice to be around seasoned veterans. It definitely makes you feel better in the back sled with you when you’ve got a good pilot who knows the track.”

Renna finished in eighth place in Park City with 12-year U.S. team veteran and pilot Nicole Vogt (1:39.04). Vogt partnered with Jones in her first World Cup last week where they finished seventh in Whistler, 1.33 seconds behind winners Kalicki and German teammate Anabel Galander.

“To have an opportunity to be with Kaillie in my World Cup debut – it’s exciting,” said the 26-year-old Jones, who was a collegiate track and field athlete at Eastern Michigan. “I just feel like I have so much more in the tank to give, and I’m just hungry for it.”

Jones is particularly gratified with her performance after returning full-time to bobsled less than 18 months ago following the birth of her daughter, Jade Quinn Jones, in February 2021. The Greensburg, Pa., native returned to training just five months postpartum, having sat out the 2020-21 season. She competed on the North American Cup last year, finishing the season with a win (the third NA Cup title of her career) and a third place in Lake Placid.

“I’m thankful,” said Jones. “Opportunity is the main thing, and I just feel blessed to have my first World Cup podium. I’m screaming on the inside. I may not show it, but I am jumping for joy because I’m just that excited and happy to have this accomplishment.”

She admits, however, it’s not always easy to compete balance a full-time competitive career with being a mom.

“Sometimes it’s a struggle being away from my daughter,” said Jones, whose mom takes care of Jade while she travels. “I try to get my facetimes in every night and just know that when I’m pushing, I’m doing it for her. Hopefully sometime in the future I’ll have her around on the sidelines cheering me on, and that’s my main motivation – that this is for her.”

The BMW IBSF World Cup continues its North American swing Dec. 16-18 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Kaillie Humphries faces IVF journey head on — and collects monobob World Cup win along the way

Gold medallist Kaillie Humphries of Team United States celebrates during the Women's Monobob.
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PARK CITY, UTAH — Kaillie Humphries knew the quest to start a family would impact her 2022-23 season, but it’s certainly not slowing down Team USA’s reigning monobob Olympic gold medalist, who captured her first World Cup title in the discipline on Friday.

The 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic golds (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships, earned her 29th career World Cup win and her third victory on the Park City track, where she won the two-woman bobsled competitions in 2012 and 2016. Competing in Utah – as well as North American World Cup stops in Whistler last week and in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Dec. 17-18 – is one of the reasons that Humphries pushed pause on her journey to motherhood.

“I’m excited,” Humphries said following the win, marking her second straight podium in monobob following a third-place finish last week in Whistler. “I was excited for this year before it started. It’s part and parcel of why my husband and I delayed the IVF process and starting a family this season. To be able to be back in North America and have the first half of the season here – it’s been a long time since we’ve had that, so I wanted to be able to compete and it feels awesome.”

That’s not to say the leadup to this season has been without its share of hiccups. In fact, Humphries admits that following the Beijing Olympics, she had hoped to get pregnant immediately, but she and husband Travis Armbruster had to pivot when a diagnosis of stage 4 endometriosis made it clear that in vitro fertilization would be the best path for pregnancy.

“Right after the Olympics, I was like, ‘We’re going to get pregnant; it’s gonna be all good,’” she said. “I thought, my body has always performed, and it wasn’t going to be an issue. Fast forward to I find out we have to do IVF. We do the first egg retrieval, and it doesn’t go as well as I had hoped — which anybody that’s done this process knows, you can’t control any aspect of it. And so having to do a second round of egg retrieval, …it pushed everything back.”

What’s more, it brought Humphries’ training to a standstill at times, when she would have to limit all physical activity during the three-week period surrounding the egg-retrieval process.

“It impacted my training coming into this year a lot,” she says, “but I also think it definitely reset my hormones, which turns out I needed. I don’t think was a bad thing. I knew coming into this year, I wasn’t going to be in the same shape as I have been in the past, and I had to make peace with that. I know that each and every race I’m racing myself into shape, and each race is a preparation for January’s World Championships.”

Humphries also chose to share her IVF journey publicly, and she’s documented every step of the way, believing that her story makes it less scary not just for her but also for other women and female athletes who might be facing the same thing.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“My husband and I weren’t sure that we wanted to share it at first,” she admits. “But I felt it was important just to showcase this. I have nothing to hide. And as much as there are parts of me certain days when I think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ At the end of the day, I know I’m not alone in this.

“It’s important, I do have a voice, and I want other people to know, as an Olympic gold medalist, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Infertility exists in the female body, and it’s important that I talk about it in my journey and hopefully that’s inspired other people.”

She says she’s received an outpouring of support, which has been particularly gratifying as she continues to put a painful breakup with Team Canada in the rearview mirror. Humphries, who was born in Calgary, competed for Canada for 16 years, winning three Olympic medals including a bronze in Pyeongchang in 2018. But the relationship came to an abrupt end later just five months after the 2018 Games, after Humphries alleged emotional and mental harassment by a former coach.

Winning a gold medal in Beijing just two months after her U.S. citizenship was finalized proved to be turning point for Humphries, who commemorated the milestone with two new tattoos. She first added the date of her win – Feb. 14, 2022 – to the back of her left hand and a larger rose and skull illustration to the back of her right knee and calf, all of which commemorate her triumph over that darker period.

“The skull represents a rebirth and a growth, overcoming challenges and/or obstacles and turning something negative into something positive,” explains Humphries, who says she chose the rose because it’s the national flower of the U.S. as well as a symbol of love won or lost. She notes that she has “an actual Olympic one” planned for August 2024, which is when her favorite tattoo artist is next available.

Humphries has also found the silver lining in her IVF journey, as the competition season has been a welcome break from some of the self-imposed pressure.

“By pushing pause for four or five months and competing, it allowed me mentally to know that we can go into all of next summer and all winter focusing on just doing the actual embryo transfers and having a good pregnancy,” she says. “I don’t feel stressed to try and get pregnant right away. I felt like I was becoming competitive with myself, wondering why isn’t this working? Why can’t I do this? I tried to control too many things, and I started to get really frustrated. Mentally, it was hard. So, by pushing pause, going back to what I know — which is the sport, which is what I love – it’s allowed me to control a little bit of my future.”

Humphries’ season continues Saturday as the IBSF World Cup from Park City concludes with the two-woman bobsleigh.