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2016 WNBA Draft: Record Four Canadians Selected

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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.”

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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.

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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

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Gray Jumper Lifts Sparks Over Lynx In WNBA Finals Game 1

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Last years to the wire WNBA Finals between the reigning champion Los Angeles Sparks and the then defending one the Minnesota Lynx ended with a clutch, game and series winning basket. This years rematch between the two teams by the end of the fourth quarter began the same way.

But this time it was reigning WNBA Finals MVP Candace Parker siren screaming in woman of the moment Chelsea Gray’s ear, as her L.A. teammate’s last second shot at the buzzer sparked Los Angeles’ other purple and gold team over the Minnesota Lynx. As they sealed Game 1 with a big escape out of Minny, 85-84.

14 seconds and a shade under 2 seconds was all Gray needed to put the game and the series advantage away for a finals that will determine who the real great WNBA champion truly is. Expect this one to go the distance too between these two evenly matched teams as the Sparks 28-2 advantage in the first quarter (shadowed by another Gray three) and 78-66 one in the fourth was erased to a next basket wins end of the final quarter and first finals game.

“All athletes dream of that moment” Chelsea told reporters afterwards as she capped off a career high 27 points with the greatest moment of her WNBA conception. Doing what fellow L.A. Spark Alana Beard did at STAPLES in Game 1 of last years WNBA Finals versus the Lynx. These razor edge close shaves really keep mirroring each other and if this is the case then things are looking good for the Sparks on reflection.

Must Read:  The Sky Is Not The Limit...Delle Donne To D.C.

Superstar leader Candace Parker added a double/double of 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Sparks, whilst Sylvia Fowles of the Lynx played with her own 22 and 13. But it was Maya Moore who paced Minnesota with 27 points as the Lynx turned a 26 point deficit to an 84-83 advantage with 6.5 on the clock remaining.

Despite foul trouble against Fowles and co, Los Angeles WNBA MVP of last season Nneka Ogwumike had 11 points against the Lynx along with Odyssey Sims’ 16. Whilst Minnesota’s Simone Augustus countered with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists against the Sparks in a contest for a series that proves to be an evenly matched, balanced attack.

But there was a subplot to this storied rivals next episode as these WNBA players responded to President Donald Trump’s call for the NFL to fire players who don’t stand for the national anthem and his refusal to invite the NBA champion Golden State Warriors to the White House following Steph Curry’s decision not to attend the traditional victory visit. As the Lynx players linked arms at home for the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, the Sparks road team left the floor only to return to a chorus of boo’s before they made another silencing statement.

And this is only the beginning.

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The Sky Is Not The Limit…Delle Donne To D.C.

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Elena Delle Donne

Strange. Call it part of the Mystic arts, but former WNBA MVP and the league of great expectations greatest player Elena Dell Donne is done with her Sky high-time in the Windy City of Chicago.

Just when Chi-town thought they had enough problems with the big beef amongst the Bulls trip of superstars Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo-not to mention the rest of the team-the town lost another superstar with their former champion sister franchise.

D.D. now finds herself in D.C. just when you thought people wouldn’t want to lay a foundation in this city unless it was with a placard or picket. Still trumping all of that ignorance in a sexist and misogynstic world, Elena looks to take Washington to new heights. Making an exclamation for the capital city for these States of America that need to remain United.

Traded to the Washigton Mystics to what on paper remains a mystery this Olympian who lead the womens national Team USA to the Gold like McConaughey in Brazil for the 2016 Rio games last Summer. But on the print of tabloids like the Tribune it was clear to read that Delle Donne was about to leave Chicago for clearer skies. Whether times where turbulent in the city of wind for their Captain Marvel was as unclear as this whole Butler and Wade vs Rondo mess, but in this Golden State age of player power it was clear Elena was about to go all Kevin Durant on the Oklahoma City Thunder. She announced it herself. And fair play to somone who allowed the Sky to prepare for whatever the weather with her free agent forecast.

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And before she became truly unrestricted Chicago wanted to make sure they got some soldiers in return for their Warrior…and oh did they. The Sky have acquired All-Star Stefanie Dolson, number 7 pick in last years draft Kahleah Copper to the brass and the wind of whoever comes in at the number 2 spot in a future draft for this Summer season.

Three for the price of one is an offer you can’t even get in stores but then again Delle Donne is one of a kind. Maybe in a million…at least in a Hall of Fame. Because when it’s all said and done Elena Delle Donne will go down as one of the greatest to ever play this game (and we’re not just talking about the womens game). We’re talking top 10 for this number 11.

Chicago may have some top draft picks for future faces for their blue skies but Washington have their number one and we’re not talking about the White House. The House of Guards has someone even bigger calling Verizon home now the Mystics have pulled off and out a magic trick of the wand that could even spellbind a Wizard.

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Sparks’ Magic Fires Up L.A.’s First WNBA Championship In 14 Years

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11 lead changes and 1 point highlighted just how little was between the two WNBA franchises who both started the season with 11 game unbeatable runs until they met each other.

Not to mention a full five game series, tied at two games a piece.

But as this seasons MVP Nneka Ogwumike hit a clutch basket with 3.1 seconds to go that was all she wrote folks as the Los Angeles Sparks clinched their first WNBA title in 14 years over the Minnesota Lynx, behind Finals MVP Candace Parker’s 28 points and 12 rebounds.

And to think this dynamic duo was left off the 2016 Gold Medal winning Olympic team that took Rio by storm.

But in the end the Minnesota Lynx’s Team USA stars Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles (who Mamba mentality played through the Kobe like pain of a dislocated finger popped back in place), who haven’t had a break all season, couldn’t keep up with two Most Valuable Superstars who had some doubters to disprove.

Maya Moore may have had more points with 23 and 11 rebounds but Nneka’s 12 and 12 iced by her game winning bucket she put back after the Sparks spilled a couple of shots in the paint was so much more. Dethroning the defending champ Lynx who have been in five WNBA Finals in the last six seasons, winning three of them.

NBA purple and gold brotherhood, Los Angeles Lakers legend and Sparks owner Magic Johnson couldn’t have been prouder of Candace as he held her in an emotional embrace postgame (Candace herself getting choked up with a tearful tribute, dedicating the win and championship to late, legendary coach and mentor Pat Summitt) after watching her put on a show. “Thank you so much” she cried, as Earvin earnestly replied, “you did what you do”! High praise from NBA histories selfless G.O.A.T. The majority owner of MLB’s Dodgers will be looking for another big hit from L.A. sports before the young Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson Lakers take to the plate and do their thing. But right now he’s just watched his Sparks step up and knock it out the park.

Must Read:  Gray Jumper Lifts Sparks Over Lynx In WNBA Finals Game 1

Giving the Lynx three strikes infront of Minnesota Timberwolves future Karl Anthony-Townes, Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine and Ricky Rubio in homestand support, the Sparks were plugged by more than their new smooth and silk duo that is all fire and ice. From Alana Beard’s game one net cutting winner to Chelsea Gray handling this 11 lead change game with 11 of her own consecutive points in the fourth to ignite the Sparks’ comeback before the game faded to black and backboard red.

As we watched all this teamwork accept what it means to be great we bore witness to not one, but two teams who could rule the WNBA for many seasons and finals to come like the mens Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Minnesota Lynx have been here for years, but not since the days of 20 for 20 leading legend Lisa Leslie have the purple L.A. team seen this much gold.

This Spark has started a fire.

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