Utah point guard Leilani Mitchell was taken by the Phoenix Mercury in the second round of Wednesday's WNBA Draft. The defending league champions selected Mitchell with the 25th overall pick.
"It's a great opportunity. It's exciting," said Mitchell, who noted that the Mercury have a great team. "And it's kind of nice that it's a team out West."
The Kennewick, Wash., native transferred to Utah for her senior season after three years at Idaho. She made quite a splash in her one season with the Utes averaging 16.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds. Mitchell earned All-American recognition from The Associated Press, as well as Mountain West Conference Player and Newcomer of the Year honors, after guiding Utah to a 27-5 record and the league regular-season title. The 5-foot-5 senior was also a finalist for the Leiberman Award, presented each year to the nation's top point guard.
"How exciting. That was amazing. I'm happy. I'm so happy for her," said Utah coach Elaine Elliott. "Her dreams have come true and we helped her through that. I'm really happy that she's going to be a WNBA kid. I'm just excited for her."
Mitchell will attend the WNBA's rookie orientation seminar on April 17 and then report to training camp with the Mercury three days later. Phoenix opens the regular season May 17 at home against Los Angeles in a game broadcast nationally on ABC.
"It's a dream come true. It's obviously playing at the highest level," said Mitchell. "It's not a done deal yet, we still have to try out. But it's going to be exciting either way just to get this opportunity."
The Mercury, who are now coached by Corey Gaines, took LaToya Pringle, a 6-foot-3 forward/center from North Carolina, in the first round.Mitchell is the third University of Utah player drafted by the WNBA. In 2006, Shona Thorburn and Kim Smith were the seventh and 13th overall selections, respectively. Thorburn went to the Minnesota Lynx and Smith was taken by the Sacramento Monarchs. Former Utes Alli Bills and Julie Krommenhoek were invited to WNBA camps as free agents in 1998.