The Washington Mystics drafted former UConn center Stefanie Dolson with the sixth pick in the first round of the WNBA Draft last week, and then traded for Dolson's college teammate, guard Bria Hartley. Now, after four years in Storrs, both players begin their professional careers together, too.
“I think it’s great for Mike Thibault,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said last week, via SNY.com. “When I talked to him coming into this he said, ‘I love Stefanie Dolson. I love Bria Hartley. But it’s probably not our biggest need at 6.’ And he found a way to get both of them. I think they’re going to be really successful there. Because of the team Mike has there and the way he can coach, I think they’ll do very well there. ...
“What Stefanie adds is that she makes everybody else better,” Lobo continued. “Immediately, Kara Lawson and Ivory Latta are better because Stefanie is going to get them open, whether by great screens or passing them the ball. And Bria gives them what Bria does. All she has to do are things she does well already. Stefanie is the one player in the draft that if you’re a veteran, especially a scorer, you’re thrilled because she’s going to make life easier for you.”
Mystics coach Mike Thibault also weighed in on his new players, via the team website:
“Stefanie’s a ready-made player for our league,” he said. “She can play in both the low post and the high post, she’s a terrific passer, a great screen setter, she was the Defensive Player of the Year, and she knows how to win. On top of all that you get a person who gets all the other parts -- media stuff, energy in the locker room, being a great teammate … You couldn’t ask for much better. I think she’s a player who will play in this league for a long time. ...
“We had a couple discussions the last two days and tonight it fell into place. We’re getting two young players to build with. Bria Hartley, winning a championship with Dolson at Connecticut, knows how to win and is a good complement to Ivory and Kara because she can play both positions. She’s also is a high energy player and smart.”
And UConn coach Geno Auriemma, never at a loss for words, knew exactly what to say.
“They’ve kind of been attached at the hip for four years so I guess it’s poetic justice,” the coach said. “I’ve always said it doesn’t matter what number you get drafted as long as you get drafted by the right team and have the opportunity to play. I’m thrilled for both of them.”