NEW YORK — Ruth Riley was momentarily confused whether San Antonio actually won the WNBA draft lottery or not when the four picks were revealed at the same time.
It took a second, but when the Stars general manager realized she had the top choice, she let out a scream of joy.
“I thought historically they went 4-3-2-1,” Riley said in a phone interview. “Then I heard him say the No. 1 pick, then our name. I’m really incredibly excited for our team, organization and our fans. I’m looking forward to the addition of a great player.”
The Stars, who have the top choice for the first time, had a 44 percent chance to secure the No. 1 selection based on having the worst combined record the past two seasons.
“A lot of fans supported us knowing that it wasn’t about we were doing this season, but more the direction we were going,” Riley said.
The Washington Mystics will pick second. They had a 10-percent chance of securing the top pick.
“The second pick is really exciting for us,” Washington coach Mike Thibault said. “Where we are with our franchise, to get another good college player will help us a lot. It’s a really exciting moment for our franchise.”
The Dallas Wings secured the third pick and the Los Angeles Sparks fourth. The Sparks acquired Connecticut’s lottery pick through a draft-day trade last April that sent Jonquel Jones to the Sun.
Connecticut and Dallas each had a 23 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick.
“You never know how the balls are going to bounce,” Dallas coach Fred Williams said. “We’re getting a nice pick there at the three position.”
Unlike the previous few seasons, there is no clear-cut No. 1 pick coming out of college this year.
“Clearly going to do some research,” Riley said. “Evaluating our roster and needs. It’s a normal process. There’s a lot of discussion around the top draft picks and different opinions who they should be. My job as GM is to evaluate the talent.”
Riley also has to find a new coach as Dan Hughes retired at the end of the season. She said that finding a new one is a high priority for the franchise.
The rest of the first round in order will be Phoenix, Seattle, Atlanta, Indiana, Dallas (from New York), Dallas (from Los Angeles) and Minnesota.
“There are a lot of things available for us since we have three picks in the first round,” Williams said.
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