It was a historic and record breaking night for Canadian women’s basketball at the 2016 WNBA Draft inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, New Jersey.
For the first time ever, a record four Canadians were selected – Florida State Center Adut Bulgak (Edmonton, Alberta) was taken 12th overall by the New York Liberty and Oregon State teammates Jamie Weisner and Ruth Hamblin became the first Canadian duo to be drafted back-to-back with the Connecticut Sun scooping up Weisner with the fifth pick in the second-round (17th overall) and the Dallas Wings taking Hamblin with the very next pick, 18th overall.
Bulgak a 6’4 center by way of Sudan via Kenya averaged 12.5 points per game, 8.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks earning second-team All-ACC honors and was ecstatic to be heading to the “Big Apple.”
Weisner the 2015-16 PAC-12 Player of the year was a force to be reckoned with during her four year tenure at Oregon State capping off her career by leading the Beavers to their first Final Four in school history while averaging 14.2 points per game and 5.8 rebounds. Teammate Ruth Hamblin (Smithers, British Columbia) aka “The Canadian Hammer” the 2016 PAC-12 Defensive player of the year nearly averaged a double-double with 9.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per contest and couldn’t hold back her emotions as her name was called.
Putting a Canadian WNBA stamp of arrival and approval and capping off an incredible 2016 Draft night was the selection of Lachine, Quebec Nirra Fields (UCLA Bruins) with 32nd and last pick of the draft by the Phoenix Sun. Fields and outstanding guard averaged 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.
Stacey Dales-Schuman (Brockville, ON) holds the distinguished title of being Canada’s highest draft pick – third overall by the Washington Mystics in 2002, followed by Hamilton, Ontario’s Shona Thorburn – 7th overall in 2006 by the Minnesota Lynx. Markham, Ontario’s own Tammy Sutton-Brown, Canada’s WNBA Queen is the longest tenured player, logging eleven seasons, between 2001-2012 and earning a Championship and two all-star appearances.
A total of seven Canadians have now been drafted since 2013, bringing the total to six active Canadians as the WNBA gets set to kick-off it’s 20th season.
With the rise of Canadian National Women’s program and over 70-plus Canadian ladies on NCAA rosters including potential top overall pick and two NCAA champion Kia Nurse next in line it’s fair to say that Canada’s WNBA invasion is just around the corner.
Complete History of Canadians Drafted in WNBA
2016 – First Round – 12th – Adut Bulgak – New York Liberty
2016 – First Round – 17th – Jamie Weisner – Connecticut Sun
2016 – First Round – 17th – Ruth Hamlin – Dallas Wings
2016 – Third Round – 32nd – Nirra Fields – Phoenix Mercury
2014 – First Round – 9th Pick – Natalie Achonwa – Indiana Fever
2014 – Second Round – 7th Pick – Michelle Plouffe – Seattle Dream
2013 – First Round – 8th Pick – Kayla Alexander – San Antonio Stars
2006 – First Round – 7th Pick – Shona Thorbun – Minnesota Lynx
2006 – First Round – 13th Pick – Kim Smith – Sacramento Monarchs
2003 – Second-Round – 18th Pick – Jordan Adams – Minnesota Lynx
2002 – First Round – 3rd Pick – Stacey Dales-Schuman – Washington Mystics
2001 – Second Round – 18th Pick Tammy Sutton-Brown – Indiana Fever
2000 – Fourth Round – 60th Pick Cal Bouchard – Detroit Shock
Canadian Kia Nurse breaking WNBA ankles & records
It was evidently clear to me back in 2014 that Kia Nurse was way ahead of schedule. We featured Nurse in our “Got Next” section of BasketballBuzz Magazine — not only highlighting her journey, superb skills but also her respect for the game and opponents via her mantra of “respect all, fear none.”
A lot has changed since that feature, but what hasn’t changed is her attitude and most of all her incredible all-around game.
Now in her second season with the WNBA’s New York Liberty, Nurse is breaking records and ankles – surpassing all exceptions as she is set to become Canada’s latest and greatest Canadian WNBA all-Star.
Nurse is currently averaging 16 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. More importantly, she takes her game up a notch when the Liberty win – averaging 20 points , 4.0 assists , 2.3 steals for New York who sit 7W-8L.
Breaking Canadian WNBA Scoring Records
2019 WNBA-All-Star Game
NCAA March Madness Co-Host
Nurse has quickly become the face of women’s basketball in Canada and was featured across Canada during the 2019 NCAA March Madness coverage, providing in-depth analysis and commentary on her path to NCAA success and WNBA stardom.
Increase WNBA coverage across Canada
Up to now, it was nearly impossible to find a WNBA game across Canadian sports stations. So bad, has the coverage been, that it actually reminded me of the early Raptors days, where finding a basketball was like pulling teeth. With the increase of the popularity of basketball in Canada also comes an increase and demand for more content and the big media players are finally stepping-up and delivering a solid amount of WNBA coverage to satisfy more than the average basketball fans pallete.
2020 Toronto’s WNBA bid
Toronto has and will always be a world class city, blessed with every major sports league calling the six home, expect for a NFL team. The long awaited question, Why doesn’t Toronto have a WNBA franchise? appears to have been answered.
Now we can only wait for the day Nurse is playing for Toronto’s WNBA franchise or maybe running basketball operations.
Sister Act. Ogwumike Siblings Spark Hollywood Reunion In Los Angeles
It’s a family affair in Hollywood.
‘Mike check, 1…2, 1…2. Chiney Ogwumike has gone from the Connecticut Sun to a Californian one to reunite with Stanford sister Nneka.
And in an instant the Candace Parker Sparks have plugged themselves in to this year’s favourite to be the HIGHER. FURTHER. FASTER, ‘Captain Marvel’ of the WNBA.
The Sparks are now illuminated by this former scorching Sun star, her former MVP sister, Candace, Point Goddess Chelsea Gray and hot clutch shooter Alana Beard. And that’s just for starters, before we get to the splinters that will stick in you from the bolstered bench. Or their seventh seal in this year’s draft, the Baylor made star Kalani Brown.
Looks like Laker legend and new coach Derek Fisher-no stranger to the closing seconds of the game himself-has a lot to light up from his sideline fuse.
The Sparks gave up a first round draft pick from next year’s 2020 lottery to get this former number one pick in the 2014 pick of players and it was well worth every spot. Chiney is a star in her prime now, whilst her sister Nneka is a veteran legend. Combine the two of them together on the same squad like their Stanford college alumni days and you have a one, two punch like the Sparks had in the legendary Lisa Leslie days alongside Candace Parker. Except the Los Angeles Sparks still have Parker. One of the best players in the league right now and for all time, giving them an even better big-three and superteam then they’ve ever had in their purple and gold coronation.
This is beautiful for a game that is all about family. From the Grant one to the Lopez twin peaks. Even sons inheriting the skills of their father from Gary Payton II to Tim Hardaway Jnr. To what’s to come from Bol Bol, Shareef O’Neal (let’s make this special and get him drafted to pops Lake Show) and Bronny.
Oh yeah and the Ball boys.
But nothing is quite as special as these sisters doing it for themselves and each other on the Lakers sister squad that now stands as its own in STAPLES like the California clashing Clippers.
After becoming Rookie of the Year, Chiney suffered through knee and Achilles injuries whilst playing in China which stunted her seasons. But in the last one this low post threat, bullied back in the paint with a 14 point average and half of that in rebounds with seven. Expect those stats that would be the perfect compliment to Candace and big sis to only improve anyway. As will the perimeter presence of the likes of All Star point Gray and Beard trimming down those shots from downtown Pico.
Peek at your 2019 WNBA champions. Because the best of the best Skylar Diggings-Smith and Breanna Stewart will join the legendary likes of Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore missing the majority if not in most cases all the forthcoming season. Which is such a shame, even if there is so much more talent on display in this expect great league. But with Storm’s weathered in Seattle and Dallas Wings clipped, these Sparks with the Fish that saved L.A. in charge are showing like in the Michael Cooper days they are more than just a legendary name plugged into their head coaching seat.
The stand for one of the best leagues in the greatest game and it’s next generation starts now.
Watch them make way and lead the charge in their game, their way.
And worthy of a Hollywood story, but a real household one, these sisters are each other keepers.
FIBA2 weeks ago
Mali defeats France to reach first-ever FIBA U19 World Cup Finals
NBA3 weeks ago
Record number of Canadian’s invade 2019 NBA Summer League
FIBA2 weeks ago
Canada tops Latvia wins group at FIBA U19 World Cup
NBA4 weeks ago
Philadelphia 76ers’ make Marial Shayok Ottawa’s first-ever NBA draft pick
FIBA2 weeks ago
Canada beats Senegal advances to quarter-finals 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup
FIBA3 weeks ago
African champions Mali drop reigning champs Canada at 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup
FIBA2 days ago
Record 17 Canadian NBA players invited to 2019 FIBA World Cup Training Camp
FIBA2 weeks ago
USA ends Mali’s historic run win 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup Gold Medal