CRAWFORD | Draft for Schimmel kicks off a Dream night for U of L - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Draft for Schimmel kicks off a Dream night for U of L

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There's a picture, a still from the documentary "Off The Rez," that resurfaced last night after Shoni Schimmel was chosen by the Atlanta Dream with the eighth pick in the WNBA Draft.

It's of Schimmel, as a little girl, unwrapping a basketball, with the letters "WNBA" emblazoned across it.

Few people are able to encapsulate dreams so neatly, from one still frame to the next, from rez ball, to college basketball, to professional. In fact, no one has, until Schimmel.

She put the package together. It had been speculated that there were some teams that might take her because of her appeal to Native Americans. There's no question, Schimmel brings her own fan base, and an instant following of thousands to any team she joins.

But there's also this: She can play basketball. In the end, that's why the Dream took her a little more than midway through the first round of the women's draft.

In Atlanta, she'll play with former University of Louisville star Angel McCoughtry, the school's No. 1 all-time scorer. Schimmel finished her career No. 2.

Both led U of L to the NCAA title game. Together, maybe they can achieve a title in Atlanta, a team that has lost in the Finals three of the past four years. Maybe Schimmel can be the piece that puts them over the top.

"I love Angel McCaughtry's game," Schimmel said. "It's a great franchise. They've been so close. Hopefully, we can take the next step. It's a dream come true. To play in the WNBA, it's been my goal. It's what I have wanted since I was four years old. To be 21 and have it happen, it's everything you could ask for."

Her family sat at a table in the Mohegan Sun Arena as the names were called. Her sister, Jude, will be honored in New York City in a couple of days as one of Glamour Magazine's 10 Outstanding College Women of the year.

Jeff Walz, who attended the draft, was thrilled at the prospect of two U of L All-Americans he has coached playing together.

"They're both great players who have unbelievable passion and work ethic," Walz said. "Their will to win is incredible."

Michael Cooper, the former Los Angeles Laker star who coaches the Dream, said, "We are very excited about Shoni. She can play in an up-tempo offense like we play, and is a player that can push the tempo and play multiple positions.

"She's going to fit in extremely well with our roster. When you want to run, you have to have someone that's a willing passer and likes to pass, and those are some of her best assets. She also has the ability to take and knock down that big 3-point shot. Her 3-point shooting ability will stretch the defense, and it will be a joy to coach a young lady of her caliber."

It was a good night for Schimmel, but it got a little better at the end.

Antonita Slaughter was taken 35th overall by the Los Angeles Sparks, owned by Magic Johnson. Asia Taylor then was taken in the final pick of the draft by the three-time defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx.

No other college program had three players taken in the draft.

"I'm a proud coach, no question about it," Walz said. "I'm so happy for all three of those kids, they've all worked so hard and earned this opportunity."

University of Kentucky forward DeNesha Stallworth was drafted by the Connecticut Sun with the first pick of the third round.

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