PHOENIX – The three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury tonight added three of the top-13 picks, and four players overall, in the 2019 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm. With the team’s own first-round pick (8th overall), Phoenix selected Stanford standout forward Alanna Smith; Phoenix then obtained the rights to Atlanta’s first-round pick (11th overall), Notre Dame standout forward Brianna (bree-ON-uh) Turner, in exchange for center Marie Gulich; Phoenix selected Missouri star Sophie Cunningham with the first pick of the 2nd round (13th overall) and selected Louisville guard Arica (AIR-ih-kuh) Carter with the team’s third round pick (32nd overall).
A 6-foot-4 stretch-forward, Smith was a Second Team All-America selection and All-Pac 12 selection as a senior for Stanford while averaging career highs in scoring (19.4) and rebounding (8.6). The standout two-way player was a PAC-12 All-Defensive Team selection while also shooting a blistering 51.1 percent from the field, including a 39.7 percent mark from three-point range and 81 made three-pointers. Smith joined Elena Delle Donne, Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart as the only players in the past 20 years to finish their collegiate career with totals of at least 1,600 points, 150 three-pointers and 200 blocks, and averaged 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in 143 career games.
A member of the Australian National Team under Mercury Head Coach Sandy Brondello, Smith was on the roster for the 2018 FIBA World Championships and averaged 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds, helping the Aussies to the silver medal.
The Mercury acquired a second first-round selection from the Atlanta Dream, trading center Marie Gulich for the rights to the No. 11 overall pick, Brianna Turner. Turner finished her Notre Dame career as the program’s all-time leader in rebounds (1,048) and blocks (372) and averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 boards during her four-year career. She was a four-time All-ACC selection while with the Irish and was named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year three times (2016, 2017, 2019). Turner missed the 2017-18 season following a season-ending knee injury, but returned to Notre Dame to help guide the team to a National Championship appearance after avergaing 14.3 points and 7.8 rebounds this season.
Cunningham, a 6-foot-1 guard from Columbia, Missouri, finished her career at the University of Missouri as the program’s all-time leader in points (2,187) and second in three-point field goals (590). She led the program to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances after Missouri had missed 10-straight NCAA postseason berths. Cunningham was a three-time All-SEC First Team selction during her collegiate career and earned All-America Third Team honors following her senior season after finishing as the only player in the nation to average 17.0 points, grab 200 rebounds, hit 80 three-pointers and 150 free throws.
Carter, a three-year starter at Louisville, finished with career averages of 5.7 points and 2.1 assists in 140 games. Carter is coming off a senior season in which she averaged career highs in points (8.5) and rebounds (3.1) and led the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8). She reached three sweet sixteens, two elite eights and one final four during her four years with the Cardinals, and was part of a class that won 132 total games over the last four years.
After coming within one win of a trip to the WNBA Finals, the Phoenix Mercury return in 2019 in search of a league-record tying fourth WNBA title. Led by the All-Star trio of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner, Phoenix opens its title quest on May 25 at Seattle on ABC. Tickets for Fry’s Food Stores Opening Night on Friday, May 31, at Talking Stick Resort Arena can be purchased by calling 602.252.WNBA or by visiting PhoenixMercury.com.
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