Lincoln - Just moments after being chosen with the highest overall pick by a Husker in WNBA Draft history, Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin was traded from Minnesota to Connecticut following her No. 3 overall selection on Thursday.
Griffin, a 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, earned NU's highest ever pick in the WNBA Draft, ahead of Nicole Kubik's No. 10 selection by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2000 draft.
But Griffin's stay with Minnesota lasted lest than half an hour, before the Connecticut Sun made a blockbuster deal to acquire Griffin from the Lynx for first- and second-round picks in the 2011 draft. It was the second major deal between the Lynx and Sun in the past year, as the Sun originally acquired the No. 1 overall pick from Minnesota by trading former Minnesota Golden Gopher All-American Lindsay Whalen to the Lynx.
Griffin, who attended the WNBA Draft at the NBA Entertainment Studios in Secaucus, N.J., on Thursday afternoon, followed No. 1 overall pick Tina Charles of UConn (Connecticut Sun) and Virginia's Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx) on the draft board. Interestingly, Wright and Griffin roomed together at the recent NCAA Women's Final Four in San Antonio as members of the State Farm/WBCA All-America Team, and were briefly set to be teammates with the Lynx.
Instead, Griffin could now be a teammate inside with Charles, who earned National Player-of-the-Year honors from both the Associated Press and the Naismith Trophy. Charles and Griffin could add a young, dynamic inside presence for the Sun as two of top five candidates for every major national player-of-the-year award in college basketball this season.
Griffin, the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year, had drawn great interest from Sun head coach Mike Thibault, who previously coached the Omaha Racers in the CBA. Thibault not only has ties to Nebraska head coach Connie Yori, but also to Nebraska assistant coach/post coach Tory Verdi, who was an assistant coach for the Sun in 2003 and 2004, and a special assistant in 2005.
Former Huskers Kiera Hardy and Danielle Page, both teammates of Griffin at Nebraska, have previously played for the Sun. Hardy was a third-round choice of the Sun in 2007, while Page earned a roster spot as a free agent for the 2008 season.
Griffin led Nebraska to the best season in school history in 2009-10, powering the Huskers to a 32-2 overall record that included a 16-0 conference record and the school's first Big 12 regular-season title. Along the way, Nebraska tied the Big 12 record with a 30-game winning streak.
Griffin led the Huskers to the highest national ranking in school history (No. 3 AP/Coaches) and the school's first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 appearance after NU claimed the first NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed in program history.
"Kelsey has been a program-changing player at Nebraska, and she has done it because of her outstanding work ethic," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "Kelsey is the best player I have ever coached, and she is also a tremendous person with great character. She has earned the opportunity to have a chance to play in the WNBA and I hope she can make the most of it."
Griffin, who was chosen as the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner, closed her Nebraska career as one of only two players in school history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, finishing her five-year career with 2,033 points and 1,019 boards. As a senior, Griffin captured first-team All-America honors from the WBCA, Associated Press, U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the Wooden Award by averaging 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
The three-time first-team All-Big 12 selection also earned a spot on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team by recording 60 steals, 26 blocked shots and a remarkable 29 charges drawn