(From left) Antonita Slaughter, Asia Taylor and Shoni Schimmel were all selected in the WNBA Draft Monday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Over the last 20 seasons the University of Louisville men's basketball team has won a national championship, rolled into three NCAA Final Fours and won titles in three different conferences.
Here is something the Cardinals have not accomplished since 1994:
Have three players taken in a single NBA Draft.
Louisville celebrated a three-peat – WNBA style -- Monday night. This time it was the women's program built by coach Jeff Walz that achieved something the Louisville men's program has done seven times, but not for two decades.
Shoni Schimmel, Antonita Slaughter and Asia Taylor took their spots next to Cliff Rozier, Greg Minor and Dwayne Morton (1994); Billy Thompson, Milt Wagner and Jeff Hall (1986) and Derek Smith, Jerry Eaves and Poncho Wright (1982) as draft classes to remember at U of L.
When the Cards won the men's title a year ago, only Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva were taken by the NBA.
"Us coming in as freshmen, you don't know what to expect," Schimmel said. "You don't know what you're going to give. You can sit there and know you're going to give all that you have individually, but I think we did it more as a collective group."
The collective group results deserve to be repeated: The senior class won 107 games over the last four years. They climbed as high as No. 3 in the AP and coaches' polls this season. They played in the 2013 national championship game. They toppled unbeaten Baylor a year ago, an upset many called the biggest ever in women's college hoops.
There's more. They appeared on television 29 times. They played in front of the largest crowds in program history – an average of 9,469 this season. Only Tennessee and Iowa State averaged more.
Then there was Monday night – Schimmel was picked eighth. She will join former Cardinals' star Angel McCoughtry in Atlanta. Slaughter was taken 35th by the Los Angeles Sparks. The Minnesota Lynx, the defending WNBA champs, selected Taylor with the 36th and final pick.
"It's a dream come true," Schimmel said.
And the chance to play with McCoughtry, who led the WNBA in scoring last season at 21.5 points per game?
"I'm looking forward to it," Schimmel said. "I know she likes to score. I like to pass. For us to both feed off each other, it's going to be great."
Nobody was more appreciative than Slaughter, who was concerned that health issues had ended her career early in the season. She got healthy, missed only six games and made 54 three-point shots. Now she is bound for Los Angeles, which expects her to keep shooting.
"It's just truly a blessing," Slaughter said about having the chance to play professional basketball.
"To get drafted, that tops everything off. I know I have to still work for it. I'm going to do that. I understand it can be taken away so fast. I really appreciate that."
Especially in Los Angeles, for a team that has Magic Johnson as one of its owners.
"It's really cool," Slaughter said. "I'm going to stay away from all distractions out there."
In the NFL they call the final person selected in the draft every season Mr. Irrelevant. As the final player taken in the WNBA Draft, Taylor does not intend to become Ms. Irrelevant. On Monday, Taylor celebrated as if she was the first overall pick.
"The TV flashed back on and they said, '36th pick, Minnesota Lynx,'" Taylor said.
"I almost blacked out. It was crazy. I went from sitting on my chair. I think my head hit the ceiling. I got tackled by Tia (Gibbs) and my teammates and stuff … the fact that I was sharing it with these two, it couldn't have been a better feeling."