Liberty take speed, size with first two picks of the 2019 WNBA Draft
NEW YORK — Asia Durr is coming to the Big Apple, as the New York Liberty select the guard from Louisville with the second overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft. The Liberty also selected Team China center Han Xu (14th), and University of Utah forward Megan Huff (26th overall) in the third round.
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“Honestly, I think I was sitting in my mom’s womb,” said Durr when asked how long she dreamed of being drafted to the WNBA.
She might not know exactly what to expect, but her mother Audrey is from The Bronx, the borough closest to the Liberty’s home court at the Westchester County Center. She is excited to take in New York City on her own terms, as a pro hooper in the WNBA. The Liberty seem equally excited.
“We got better tonight,” said Liberty head coach Katie Smith via the team press release. “Going into the draft, we knew that we had a couple of needs and we appreciate what Durr brings to the table. She can score the basketball and she’s a playmaker.”
Scoring is definitely something the Liberty need. The team averaged 77 points per game and only secured seven wins last season. Durr shot at a 44% clip this season and averaged 27 ppg. Her 2,483 career points for Louisville placed her second in all-time scoring for the Cardinals.
“In the second round, it was important to us to choose a productive center who is a hard worker and we got that with Han,” Smith said.
At 6’9, Xu would greatly help a front court that struggles to provide consistent support to team superstar Tina Charles. While both Kia Vaughn and Kia Stokes offered size and strength to the roster, neither has establish herself as a consistent, reliable option on the block. Other than Charles, no other Liberty player averaged more than five rebounds per game. Xu averaged 8.9 rebounds, 15.9 points and 2.1 blocks per game in her rookie year in the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA).
However, the selection is somewhat of a gamble, as Xu may sit out the season to remain with her national team. The center made it clear things will depend on her national team, but she also hopes and expects to play this WNBA season. On Wednesday, she became the second Chinese player drafted to the WNBA, and the first since Zheng Haixia went to the Los Angeles Sparks in 1997.
The Liberty’s final pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft, Megan Huff is a 6’3 forward from the University of Utah. She is a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection and ranks in the top-10 all-time at Utah in single-game and single-season scoring. Huff also became a 1,000-point scorer in just two seasons.
“Huff is so versatile and can spread the floor,” Smith said. “All in all, we filled some holes that we have and it’s going to be a competitive training camp.”
Durr, Xu, and Huff will look to battle for 12 roster spots for the Liberty, who will play at least one more season at the Westchester County Center. After that, the Liberty, who played their first 2o season at the World’s Greatest Arena — Madison Square Garden — might cross the river and call the Barclays Center in Brooklyn their new home.
For now, the team is optimistic about its additional players.
“Tonight was a big night for the New York Liberty,” said Liberty General Manager, Jonathan Kolb, in a team press release. “In the first round we added a guard in Asia Durr that is as pure a scorer as they come. She loves this game and we envision her exciting Liberty fans for years to come.”
The Liberty return to action on May 9 as they host Team China at Barclays. The regular season tips off at the Westchester County Center on May 24 when the Indiana Fever roll into White Plains.
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