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Tulsa chooses GU’s Frieson

Vivian Frieson averaged 16 ppg  during the NCAA tournament. (Colin Mulvany)
Vivian Frieson averaged 16 ppg during the NCAA tournament. (Colin Mulvany)

Hope became a reality for Vivian Frieson Thursday afternoon when she became the first Gonzaga Bulldog drafted by the WNBA.

The Seattle native was taken in the third round by the Tulsa Shock, the 31st pick overall.

“I didn’t really expect to get drafted, but I hoped to get drafted,” the versatile 6-foot forward said. “There is a lot of great talent and I wasn’t expecting to get drafted as it got later and later. When I saw my name I was so excited.”

Frieson’s stock improved dramatically as the Bulldogs advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.

After the Zags defeated North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Frieson hit the game-winning shot with 18 seconds left in a 72-71 win over Texas A&M.

“I think it came down to the tournament,” she said. “I had a decent tournament. That put me out there and some coaches noticed.”

Frieson averaged 12.5 points on 52.8 percent shooting and 12.5 rebounds with 70 assists, 46 steals and 45 blocks as Gonzaga went 29-5. In three NCAA tournament games she averaged 16 points and 8.7 rebounds, with nine blocks, nine assists and six steals.

“I always said this is something I wanted to do, but it’s more than a dream come true,” she said.

The Shock, which played the past 11 seasons in Detroit and won WNBA titles in 2006 and 2008, are coached by Nolan Richardson, best known as the University of Arkansas men’s coach.

The team drafted Amanda Thompson of Oklahoma in the first round and recently added former Olympic sprinter Marion Jones, who was a guard on North Carolina’s 1994 NCAA championship team.

Frieson is the first player from a local college to be drafted by the WNBA but not the first local player to be drafted.

Briann January, who went to high school at Lewis and Clark and played at Arizona State University, was the sixth overall pick last year by Indiana, which made it to the WNBA finals last summer. Two years early, January’s college teammate and Central Valley graduate Emily Westerberg was taken in the third round by Phoenix, although she chose not to play.

Mead graduate Stacy Clinesmith, who went to UC Santa Barbara, was taken by Sacramento in the second round of the 2000 draft.

Andrea Lloyd, a Moscow graduate who played at Texas, was a third-round pick by Minnesota in 1999, but she first played in the ABL – as did Coeur d’Alene and Purdue graduate Corissa Yasen and Washington State’s Jenni Ruff.