By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) _ Jewell Loyd and Amanda Zahui B. shared a hug after they were taken with the top two picks in the WNBA draft. The underclassmen’s decisions to turn pro were justified.
Loyd went first to the Seattle Storm, and Zahui B. was taken second by the Tulsa Shock on Thursday night.
“For me, it was the best thing,” Loyd said about skipping her senior year at Notre Dame. “For (Zahui), it was the best thing for her.”
Zahui B., who is a red-shirt sophomore at Minnesota, said she doesn’t know if this will be a trend with underclassmen turning pro. The league has strict rules and both players were eligible because they will turn 22 this year.
“I’m not really sure, both me and Jewell are very unique players,” Zahui B. said. “Whoever wants to do it, be sure about it. Make sure you’re happy. This feeling is amazing.”
Loyd was the first Notre Dame player to be taken No. 1t, an honor that Loyd said jokingly she will remind former teammate Skylar Diggins of. Diggins was taken third by Tulsa two years ago.
“It’s humbling going No. 1,” Loyd said.
In Seattle, Loyd will be joined by UConn’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who was taken third by the Storm.
“It’s great going back to the West Coast,” said Mosqueda-Lewis, who was born in California. “It definitely will be easier for my family to see me play.”
Duke senior Elizabeth Williams went fourth to the Connecticut Sun. Chicago took former Middle Tennessee State player Cheyenne Parker with the fifth pick. Parker was dismissed from Middle Tennessee State in late February for a failed drug test for marijuana.
Dearica Hamby was picked sixth by San Antonio, making her the first Wake Forest player to be taken in the WNBA draft.
“It’s a great feeling, I’m glad I could be the person to be the stepping stone for Wake,” Hamby said. “I definitely think it’s a stepping stone. You don’t have to go to some big time school to be successful.”
Crystal Bradford of Central Michigan went seventh to the Los Angeles Sparks and Dayton’s Ally Malott was drafted eighth by Washington.
The New York Liberty were active making two trades to get into the first round. New York took Brittany Boyd with the ninth pick after trading Alex Montgomery to San Antonio. The Liberty then traded Anna Cruz to Minnesota for the No. 11 pick and took Kiah Stokes.
Defending champion Phoenix closed out the first round, taking Isabelle Harrison of Tennessee. The senior forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in February. She had surgery in early March and was still on crutches.
The ceremony was held at the Mohegan Sun for the second straight year. A spirited crowd, which included many of the UConn women’s basketball players, cheered on the picks.
Training camps open May 17, and the WNBA’s 19th season tips off on June 5.
(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)