Mystics add a wing shooter and a point guard to their stacked roster
Upon learning that she had been drafted by the Washington Mystics, Creighton’s Jaylyn Agnew couldn’t wait to meet her new teammates.
“I think the first thing I texted one of my assistant coaches was, ‘I’m going to be in training camp with Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles!’ Like, that’s so awesome,” Agnew told the media on Friday night. Agnew was the Mystics’ first selection of the night at No. 24, followed by Texas’s Sug Sutton at No. 36.
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Agnew is a 5’11 small forward from Andover, Kansas, who was named Big East Player of the Year and an honorable mention AP All-American this season. She averaged 20.8 points per game, which ranked seventh nationally, while shooting 37% from 3-point range and 95% from the free throw line. She scored in double figures in all but three games this season and memorably had a program-record 43 points on her Senior Day against Georgetown.
Besides her scoring prowess, Agnew was also one of the most versatile players in the country, contributing 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.0 blocks. She is Creighton’s first-ever WNBA Draft pick and is both quick and long, with a reported 6-3 wingspan.
“Everybody knows I love shooters … She fits the mold of our team,” Mike Thibault told the media on Friday night. “… We just kind of kept praying as a staff that she would still be there when it came our turn to draft.”
Thibault had been watching Agnew for a few years, aided by the fact that Creighton’s conference rival Georgetown is in Washington. He was impressed by her ability to take on an increasingly large role offensively and improve her one-on-one game over the years, and he also liked that she could play off the ball and guard multiple positions at the WNBA level.
Agnew added that she was “super excited and grateful” to be drafted by the defending champions, and she sees herself contributing offensively as a floor spacer who can give Delle Donne, Charles, and Emma Meesseman more room to operate inside. During the coronavirus pandemic, she has been staying ready for the draft by doing ball-handling drills in her garage and lifting weights in her basement. “It’s been a whirlwind these last weeks, but just super exciting to be a part of,” she said.
With the final pick in the draft, the Mystics selected Sug Sutton, a 5’8 point guard from St. Louis, Missouri, who has been a top-10 finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award for two straight seasons. As a senior, Sutton averaged 10.4 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.8 steals per game, and she ranked in the 96th percentile nationally in assist rate. Against Iowa State in January, she narrowly missed out on a triple-double with a season-high 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. Sutton brings depth to a position where Washington was thin at times last season and doubles the number of Texas Longhorns on the Mystics roster, joining 2018 draftee Ariel Atkins.
“Good point guards are hard to find,” Thibault said of Sutton. “She’s got some things to work on, but I think that she’s got the right demeanor to play in our league. … She is very unselfish and finds teammates.” He also highlighted her experience running an up-tempo offense at Texas as something that has prepared her to succeed in the Mystics’ offense.
Agnew and Sutton both face uphill battles to make the Mystics roster, as the Mystics’ trade for former WNBA MVP Tina Charles earlier this week gave them a star-studded, 11-player roster and no further cap space heading into the draft. But Thibault told reporters that both players will have “every opportunity” to compete for a roster spot. Agnew also revealed that, in pre-draft conversations with Thibault, “he said just to come in and do what I know I can do. He said to try to take someone’s job—that’s ultimately what I will have to do to get on the roster—[and] just to come in with confidence.”
In more ways than one, the WNBA Draft was a different kind of experience for Thibault and his staff. Like the rest of the league, they were communicating virtually because of the coronavirus, so Thibault had his laptop and two phones at the ready to call in his picks and communicate with his staff and those of other teams. Luckily, the technology worked without a hitch. In addition, trading the team’s first-round pick as part of the package for Charles meant that Thibault could have “a really nice dinner” during the first round. “We toasted the trade and we had our chips and guac and tacos … It was something I haven’t done in a draft before.” And as he spoke with the media, he still had ESPN on in the background, which was showing a replay of Washington’s championship-clinching game in last year’s WNBA Finals. “[I] still get goosebumps,” Thibault said.
Goosebumps, just like his newest players probably got when they saw their names flash across the ESPN ticker and found out they were headed to the nation’s capital.
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