Jill Barta may be getting the best of both worlds.
Not only was the Gonzaga star selected in the third round of the WNBA draft on Thursday night, her rights were quickly traded to the nearest club to her native Montana.
It’s been a month since Barta decided to forgo her final year eligibility after four seasons at GU.
“I got to the point where I was ready to move on and start a new chapter in my life,” she said at the time.
It will begin this summer with the defending league champion Minneapolis Lynx.
The two-time West Coast Conference Tournament MVP had no sooner been taken with the 32nd overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces when the Lynx offered up two veterans for Barta and the Aces’ second-round pick next year.
Barta didn’t know what to expect going into the draft. A 6-foot-3 small forward with solid rebounding and a strong outside shot, she was projected to go as high as the second round – or not at all.
Barta hasn’t exactly been obsessed with the draft. Due to graduate next month with a degree in special education, she’s has worked 8 hours a day as a student teacher in Spokane.
“My days go by so fast, night comes and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Thursday tomorrow, I haven’t had any time to think about anything,’ ” Barta told 406sports.com on Wednesday.
“(Special ed teaching) has been my passion. Ever since I went to school, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” said Barta, who plans to move to Fort Benton, Montana, after graduation.
“Once you get to actually be in the classroom and working with kids, it really opens my eyes to that I didn’t make a mistake of wanting to be a teacher,” she said. “It’s actually made me love it more.”
Barta plans to teach when her playing career is over.
After redshirting in 2014-15, Barta quickly emerged as a key player for the Zags. In three seasons, she averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds.
With 1,620 points, Barta is the fourth-leading scorer in school history. She ranks first in career defensive rebounds per game with 4.6 and free-throw percentage at 85.2 percent.