When Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves called Kayla Standish a week and a half ago, she thought it was an April Fools’ joke.
Graves informed the Gonzaga senior that she was among the top 15 prospects invited to this year’s WNBA draft – which will be held at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn – and it wasn’t a joke.
Standish, along with her father, Graves and Gonzaga director of basketball operations Michelle Clark, will attend Monday’s draft, where Standish has been projected to go late in the first round or early in the second round. The Los Angeles Sparks hold the No. 1 overall pick, followed by Seattle, Minnesota, Tulsa and San Antonio.
“I was completely surprised,” Standish said. “It was very exciting when I found out. (WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations) Renee Brown called me to talk about the process, and she started out by explaining who she was and I was thinking, ‘You don’t need to explain that, I definitely know who you are.’”
Standish is the second player from Gonzaga to earn the invite and will become the third to be drafted. Courtney Vandersloot attended the draft last year and was the No. 3 overall pick by the Chicago Sky. Former Zag Vivian Frieson was Gonzaga’s first WNBA draftee, selected 31st by the Tulsa Shock in 2010.
Standish, a two-time All-West Coast Conference pick, led the Bulldogs to their third-straight NCAA tournament Sweet 16 appearance this season. Her 16.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game led the Zags this season and she averaged 23.2 points in postseason play. She was also an All-American honorable mention by the Associated Press and WBCA State Farm.
“I never thought personally that I would be up to the standard to be drafted,” Standish said. “(Courtney and Vivian) just seemed like they were on a whole other level that I wasn’t at yet. To be a part of something that only three of us can say is a really rewarding feeling.”
Also invited to the draft: Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford), Tennessee’s Glory Johnson, Shekinna Stricklen and Vicki Baugh, Miami (Fla.) guards Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams, Notre Dame’s Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters, Tiffany Hayes (Connecticut), Samantha Prahalis (Ohio State), LaSondra Barrett (Louisiana State), Julie Wojta (Wisconsin-Green Bay), Sasha Goodlet (Georgia Tech) and Lynetta Kizer (Maryland).
“There’s no shortage of talent, and Kayla has earned her spot among the best draft prospects in the country,” Graves said. “I wouldn’t miss going (to the draft) with her for the world. I think (Kayla) is going to be the poster child for us. She came in with immense talent – no question – but she waited her time. She didn’t play a lot as a freshman or sophomore, and when her time came she rose to the occasion.
“Now look where she’s at.”