Lexie Hull is a rare basketball talent.
They knew it at Liberty Lake Elementary School. So did the folks at Central Valley High School and Stanford University.
So apparently did the Indiana Fever, who on Monday night made Hull the sixth pick of the Women’s National Basketball Association draft.
That surprised even the folks at the Liberty Lake home of Cheryl Hull – Lexie’s grandmother – who hosted a gathering of three dozen friends and family .
As the draft unfolded in New York, guests were still dishing up food and settling in for what was expected to be a long wait.
Suddenly, Lexie’s image flashed on the screen and the place went wild. A thousand miles away in the Bay Area, Lexie celebrated with her parents, twin sister Lacie and their Stanford teammates.
“I’m just so overwhelmed,” Cheryl Hull said as friends congratulated her and each other. But just like Lexie and her twin sister Lacie, she quickly recovered her composure. It was as if the Hull family expected this all along.
Before the draft began, they shared stories of the twins’ singular work ethic on the court and in the classroom.
Denise Peterson, a former physical education teacher at Liberty Lake Elementary, recalled how Lexie “worked so hard to accomplish this goal.”
John Kraemer, a family friend for almost three decades, recalls marveling at the intensity of pickup games on the driveway.
Another Liberty Lake teacher, Brandon Olson, admired the intensity of the Hull sisters as they worked for hours to perfect their free throw techniques on the way to regional championships.
From there, the twins went on to win state and national titles at Central Valley and the NCAA championship last year. Lacie, a defensive star, has elected to move on to the working world. Armed with a master’s degree, she’s moving to Texas and a career with eBay.
Lexie’s game flourished this year as Stanford reached the Final Four, and the pros noticed. A tough player who hit almost 40% of her long-range shots, the 6-foot-1 guard also averaged almost 5½ rebounds this year.
That was enough to see Hull projected in most mock drafts as a mid-second-round pick. Odds seemed high that she might go to the Seattle Storm, who had three second-round draft picks.
This was even better, because a first-round pick almost always means a promising career.
Cheryl Hull certainly hoped so.
“Now we have to plan some trips to Indiana,” she said.
Apart from Hull, the draft offered few surprises. The Atlanta Dream took Kentucky guard Rhyne Howards with the top pick.
Indiana, which had four first-round picks, took Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith with the No. 2 pick, and the Washington Mystics selected Ole Miss center Shakira Austin at No. 3.
The Seattle Storm used the 17th overall pick to take North Carolina State post Elissa Cunane.