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Former IU star among 7 players drafted by Indiana Fever Monday night

The Fever drafted players who have been part of the last three NCAA basketball championship teams.
Credit: AP
Baylor's NaLyssa Smith, left, poses for a photo with commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected by the Indiana Fever as the second overall pick in the WNBA basketball draft, Monday, April 11, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fever got a big jump on rebuilding their roster with seven picks in Monday's WNBA draft in New York.

Indiana had seven picks in the three-round draft, including four in the first 10 selections. They used two of those picks to take Baylor teammates NaLyssa Smith, who was the second pick of the draft, and Queen Egbo, who was picked at 10. 

The Fever also picked fourth and sixth in the first round, selecting Louisville's Emily Engstler and Lexie Hull of Stanford.

“We have four top picks, so there is the opportunity for this team to grow tremendously," Smith said.

Interim general manager Lin Dunn said last week the Fever were "going in a different direction," having already changed their coaching staff and revamping the roster, including trading center Teaira McCowan to Dallas for the picks they turned into Engstler and Hull Monday night.

Indiana also released veteran Jantel Lavender. None of the team's first-round picks from the last three seasons remain on the roster.

“When you are last, there needs to be change,” Dunn said. 

Smith, the 2021 national player of the year, averaged 15.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in four years at Baylor, scoring over 2,000 points in her college career. She averaged more than a block per game her senior season. 

Her teammate, Egbo, blocked 183 shots in her career with the Bears, averaging nearly two blocks per game her last two seasons. 

Engstler, who transferred to Louisville from Syracuse, led the Cardinals to the Final Four this past season, where they lost to eventual national champion South Carolina. She averaged 11.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.7 steals this season for Louisville.

Hull, a 6-foot, 1-inch guard, won a national championship with Stanford in 2021 and earned All-Pac-12 honors three times in her four-year college basketball career. She averaged 12.5 points, 2 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game in her senior season.

In the second round, Indiana nabbed the star of this year's national championship game, Destanni Henderson. She scored 26 points to lead the Gamecocks to their second national title.

Her 12.8 points per game in the NCAA Tournament helped her to All-Tournament honors both at the Final Four and the Greensboro Regional. Henderson's effort all season – 11.5 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting and 3.9 assists per game – put her on the national stage where she picked up All-America honors for the first time in her career, making the USBWA third team and honorable mention status from AP and WBCA.

The pick was met with enthusiasm from Fever legend Tamika Catchings.

In Smith, Egbo, Hull and Henderson, the Fever drafted players who were part of the last three national championships.

Indiana went big again in the third round, selecting center Ameshya Williams-Holliday from Jackson State, then kept Indiana University star Ali Patberg close to home with their second third-round pick.

Credit: AP
Indiana guard Ali Patberg (14) looks to shoot over Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell, right, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Patberg, a Columbus North High School graduate, started her career at Notre Dame before transferring to IU. She averaged 14.4 points and 4.4 assists per game in four seasons with the Hoosiers, ranking ninth in career points and third in assists.

The Fever have had just one winning season since Dunn led them to the WNBA title in 2012, that coming in 2015, when they returned to the WNBA Finals, losing in five games to Minnesota. They haven't made the playoffs since 2016.

They finished last season with a 6-26 record, the worst in the league. 

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