The Fever go with the power forward from Baylor
As many had predicted in recent weeks, the Indiana Fever — holding the third overall pick for the second year in a row — drafted Lauren Cox on Friday night.
Her parents cheered and her sisters threw confetti in the air after Cox’s name was called by WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
“I think it’s a great fit for me as far as the team goes,” Cox said on a media call shortly after the pick was made. “I love being able to play with another big post player and I think that’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m really excited.”
Cox, a versatile power forward out of Baylor University, averaged 12.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last season. The Texas native also managed 1.32 steals and 2.68 blocks per game, showing off her hard-nosed defense and combination of skills that will do her well in the league. In the past four years, Cox has demonstrated that she is a very strong defender in the paint, a solid passer and even a consistent three-point shooter — she shot 33.3% from beyond the arc last season.
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“I think [Cox is] a threat, she can pull out and hit that free throw line jumpshot, hit that baseline jumper, she’s got the post moves around the basket,” Tamika Catchings, general manager for the Fever, said on a media call. “Face up, back to the basket. I think she does a little bit of everything, which will allow her to be able to play her in different positions with different players.”
Upon arriving at Baylor in 2016, Cox was named Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year and a unanimous selection to the Big 12’s All-Freshman Team. She led the conference in blocked shots her sophomore year, was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a senior and is leaving Baylor as just the fourth player in program history to earn four separate All-America selections in the same season.
Cox’s immense success at Baylor came as she managed her Type 1 Diabetes, playing all four years with a glucose monitor in her arm and an insulin pump attached to her hip. Diagnosed with the autoimmune disease when she was seven years old, Cox never let that stop her from playing basketball and her dream of making it to the WNBA just came true.
“I’m extremely proud,” Cox said. “My hard work is finally paying off and I’m really happy to see that. Other kids with Type 1 Diabetes, seeing me accomplish all these things — it’s going to be big for them and they can see that they can do anything regardless of diabetes or not.”
At Baylor, Cox spent three years playing alongside center Kalani Brown, who will now ply her trade for the Atlanta Dream after being traded by the LA Sparks. In Indiana, Cox could fit in quite nicely at the four spot as 2019 No. 3 pick Teaira McCowan occupies the five.
“It was a lot of fun to play with [Brown], and I think [Brown] and [McCowan] are very similar players,” Cox said. “So I think it’s going to be exciting to be able to play with her. I think that experience just taught me more things about my passing, where to get the ball to a player like that and just helped me with my outside shooting because when I couldn’t get the ball inside, I had to score other ways.”
Following a mediocre 2019 campaign in which the team finished in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 13-21 overall record, Indiana overhauled its front office. The Fever fired head coach and general manager Pokey Chatman in September, choosing former Mystics assistant Marianne Stanley to replace her on the bench and Tamika Catchings to take over GM duties. In the offseason, the team also added 25-year-old Hungarian Bernadett Hatar, who, at 6’10 is currently the tallest player in the league.
“I did not sleep at all last night,” Catchings joked about the lead-up to her first draft as GM. “I did the whole draft in my dreams, all three rounds. I’m just really really excited about being able to have our first round with this coaching staff in particular. It’s been a phenomenal last couple of weeks where we’ve been in the war room in our own houses, in our own little world.”
With the return of players like Victoria Vivians from injury, the continued improvement of McCowan and the addition of Cox and others, the Fever hope to end their three-year streak of missing out on the playoffs this season.
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