History made in the 2016 WNBA Draft

In the time it takes to make a quick run to the kitchen, Ruth Hamblin and Jamie Weisner went from being college students to part of history.

The Oregon State teammates were selected with consecutive picks during the second round of 2016 WNBA Draft, part of a record four Canada Basketball National Women's Team players selected on Thursday night, but they didn't actually see it happen.

"It happened during the commercial break, so I didn't even know until after the break," said Weisner, a guard from Clarkson, Wash. "It showed the board and we were the next two picks, it was just our names up there so it was really cool to see our names up there going back-to-back. I'm just really proud of her and all that we've accomplished together and excited for the next step for both of us."

Before Thursday, there had never been more than two Canadians selected in the same WNBA Draft. That benchmark was shattered in the span of about an hour, starting with New York taking Florida State centre Adut Bulgak of Edmonton with the last pick in the first round, 12th overall, followed by Connecticut and Dallas picking Weisner and Hamblin at 17th and 18th, respectively, and finally UCLA guard Nirra Fields, a native of Lachine, Que., having her named called in the third round, 32nd overall, by Phoenix.

"I think it's amazing," said Hamblin, a centre from Houston, B.C. "People are talking about this being the Golden Age of Canadian basketball and for us all to be a part of it is an amazing moment. It's just so exciting to have so many (Canadians) playing in the top league in the world.â"

While none are older than 23, the four Canadian draftees have already enjoyed tremendous success in international competition. Fields was part of back-to-back gold medal triumphs at the Pan-Am Games and FIBA Americas Championship last summer, when the Senior Women qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Bulgak and Hamblin won silver with the Development Senior Women at the 2015 FISU Games. Weisner helped the Development Senior Women capture first place at the 2014 Jones Cup.

"To see us all have success at the college level and now we're taking it to the next level just shows that Canada Basketball is going to continue to rise and the future is very bright," said Weisner, the 2016 Pac-12 Player of the Year.

Being drafted back-to-back seemed fitting for Hamblin and Weisner, who first met as freshman in 2012 and grew to become great friends and equally great student-athletes leading OSU to the 2016 Women's Final Four, the first such appearance in school history.

Less than two weeks ago that the Beavers were playing eventual champion Connecticut in the NCAA semi-final.

"It's definitely been such a whirlwind ... just kind of this roller coaster ride that we've been on, but it's just so fun," said Hamblin, who was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in both 2015 and 2016. "It's great to be living life at its fullest because there so many experiences and good things happening every day."

The 2016 WNBA season tips off May 14.

 

Written by Brian Swane