BRISTOL, Conn. - Three Duke women's basketball student-athletes -- Jasmine Thomas, Karima Christmas and Krystal Thomas -- were selected in the 2011 WNBA Draft on Monday, which was held at the ESPN Headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
Jasmine Thomas was selected in the first round with the 12th overall pick to the Seattle Storm, while Christmas was taken in the second round with the 23rd pick to the Washington Mystics and Krystal Thomas was taken with the 36th selection to the Seattle Storm in the third round.
"I'm really proud of Jasmine, Karima and Krystal," said Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie. "This is a wonderful opportunity for all of them, and it's a very exciting time to think about playing professional basketball and the enormous opportunity it is. I'm eager for them and excited for them and hope they can make the most of their time there."
It marks the second time in school history the Blue Devils have registered three players taken in the WNBA Draft as in 2006 Monique Currie, Mistie Bass and Jessica Foley were picked. Duke was the only school with three selections on Monday.
Thomas, a native of Fairfax, Va., led sixth-ranked Duke to a 32-4 overall and 12-2 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) action in 2010-11. She was named ACC Tournament MVP for the second straight year after guiding Duke to its second consecutive ACC Tournament crown.
"(The selection announcement) made my heart kind of start racing," said Thomas. "Just the anticipation of finding out where I was going to be was pretty nerve-wracking. It was just exciting and relieving to finally hear my name."
The 5-9 guard averaged 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.4 steals and 0.6 blocks on the season. Thomas was a finalist for the John R. Wooden and Naismith National Player of the Year awards, while being named to the All-ACC Defensive Team and ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
"That's exciting," commented Thomas on going to a great team. "I've been watching Sue Bird since I was younger, and she's such a great point guard, one of the best there is. Just to have the opportunity to meet her and play with her and learn from her, that's such a good place for me to be. It's different from when I went to Duke. I was coming in as the only point guard, and I was expected to come in and make an impact right away."
A product of Houston, Texas, Christmas averaged 9.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 steals for the Blue Devils. She started 35 of 36 games and was named to both the All-ACC Tournament First Team and Philadelphia Regional All-Tournament teams. She scored double-digits in 16 contests, while collecting 20 or more points in four games. Christmas became just the 27th player in school history to reach the 1,000 points mark as she finished with 1,052 in four years.
One of the top shot-blockers in Duke history, Krystal Thomas averaged 7.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks as she started all 36 contests. A native of Orlando, Fla., Thomas became just the second Blue Devil to pull down 300 rebounds in a single season as she finished her senior campaign with 300 boards. A 6-5 center, Thomas totaled 13 career double-doubles and swatted 196 shots in four years to rank 14th on the ACC all-time charts. She was named the Full Court Press ACC Defensive Player of the Year and All-ACC Third Team.
"I just think it reflects on the character of Jasmine, Karima and Krystal -- the way they've pursued everything," said McCallie. "Certainly our program benefits tremendously from all of the pros, and I just think it's a wonderful thing to see them earn a Duke degree, an incredible degree, and then match that with a pro opportunity, I think that's terrific."
Duke has had 17 players selected in the WNBA Draft in school history -- Lindsey Harding (Phoenix Mercury, No. 1 overall pick in 2007), Alana Beard (Washington Mystics, No. 2 overall pick in 2004), Monique Currie (Charlotte Sting, No. 3 overall pick in 2006), Alison Bales (Indiana Fever, No. 9 overall pick in 2007), Chante Black (Connecticut Sun, No. 10 overall pick in 2009), Iciss Tillis (Detroit Shock, No. 11 overall pick in 2004), Jasmine Thomas (Seattle Storm, No. 12 overall pick in 2011), Michele Van Gorp (New York Liberty, No. 18 overall pick in 1999), Georgia Schweitzer (Miami Sol, No. 21 overall pick in 2001), Mistie Bass (Phoenix Mercury, No. 21 overall pick in 2006), Abby Waner (New York Liberty, No. 21 in 2009), Karima Christmas (Washington Mystics, No. 23 overall pick in 2011), Wanisha Smith (New York Liberty, No. 27 overall pick in 2008), Joy Cheek (Indiana Fever, No. 35 in 2010), Krystal Thomas (Seattle Storm, No. 36 overall pick on 2011), Jessica Foley (Indiana Fever, No. 38 overall pick in 2006) and Peppi Browne (Charlotte Sting, No. 43 overall pick in 2000).
"Obviously coming into the Seattle team where they're the defending champions and have the great group there already, it's really going to come down to my hard work and showing I have potential to be a great player and a player they can see fitting into their system somehow," said Jasmine Thomas.
- d - u - k - e -
The complete draft order follows.
1. Minnesota Lynx Maya Moore
2. Tulsa Shock Elizabeth Cambage
3. Chicago Sky Courtney Vandersloot
4. Minnesota Lynx from Connecticut Sun Amber Harris
5. Los Angeles Sparks Jantel Lavender
6. San Antonio Silver Stars Danielle Robinson
7. Tulsa Shock from Phoenix Mercury Kayla Pedersen
8. Atlanta Dream Ta'Shia Phillips
9. Indiana Fever Jeanette Pohlen
10. New York Liberty Alex Montgomery
11. Washington Mystics Victoria Dunlap
12. Seattle Storm Jasmine Thomas
13. Minnesota Lynx from Tulsa Shock Jessica Breland*
14. Minnesota Lynx Felicia Chester*
15. Chicago Sky Carolyn Swords
16. Connecticut Sun Sydney Colson*
17. Chicago Sky from Los Angeles Sparks Angie Bjorklund
18. Atlanta Dream from San Antonio Silver Stars Rachel Jarry*
19. Phoenix Mercury Brittany Spears
20. San Antonio Silver Stars from Atlanta Dream Danielle Adams
21. Tulsa Shock from Indiana Fever Italee Lucas
22. New York Liberty Angel Robinson*
23. Washington Mystics Karima Christmas
24. Seattle Storm Ify Ibekwe
25. Tulsa Shock Chastity Reed
26. Minnesota Lynx Kachine Alexander
27. Chicago Sky Amy Jaeschke
28. Connecticut Sun Adrienne Johnson
29. Los Angeles Sparks Elina Babkina
30. San Antonio Silver Stars Porsha Phillips
31. Phoenix Mercury Tahnee Robinson*
32. Atlanta Dream Kelsey Bolte
33. Indiana Fever Jori Davis
34. New York Liberty Mekia Valentine
35. Washington Mystics Sarah Krnjic
36. Seattle Storm Krystal Thomas
* The following trades were completed following the Draft:
New York traded Kalana Green to Connecticut for the draft rights of Sydney Colson (16th pick).
Phoenix traded draft rights of Tahnee Robinson (31st pick) to Connecticut for Connecticut's third round pick in 2012.
Minnesota traded draft rights of Jessica Breland (13th pick) to New York for the draft rights of Angel Robinson (22nd pick) and New York's own second round pick in 2012.
Minnesota traded the draft rights of Felicia Chester (14th pick) to Atlanta for draft rights to Rachel Jarry (18th pick) and the Dream's 2012 2nd round pick.