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April 9, 2010

WNBA draft gets 3 Sooners

NORMAN — One day they’re playing in the Final Four, the next their making professional plans. Well, almost.

Oklahoma women’s basketball players Amanda Thompson, Abi Olajuwon and Nyeshia Stevenson concluded their collegiate basketball careers Sunday in the Sooners’ 73-66 lost to Stanford at the Final Four. Thursday afternoon, they’re professional careers began … sort of.

They must still report to training camp, make the team and, perhaps, make some academic arrangements. But Thursday they learned which training camps they’ll be attending when all three Sooner seniors were were selected in the WNBA draft.

Thompson was taken in the second round, 19th overall, by the Tulsa Shock. Olajuwon and Stevenson were both selected in the third round, Olajuwon with the 28th overall pick by the Chicago Sky and Stevenson, 36th overall, by the Phoenix Mercury.

All three came on strong late in the season as OU closed strong against Big 12 Conference competition before moving on to the NCAA Tournament.

Thompson, who averaged 13.1 points and 10.5 rebounds, will get a chance to continue playing in front of Oklahoma basketball fans as the Shock embarks on its first season in Tulsa.

“Our fans were talking about how much they’ll miss me,” Thompson said. “It will be a great opportunity to still play in front of them.”

If Olajuwon, who averaged 13.2 points and 8.2 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament, sticks with the Sky, she’ll be a teammate of fellow post Courtney Paris. Paris, the three-time former Sooner All-American, moved from the Sacramento Monarchs to the Sky in the offseason.

Stevenson will become the answer to a trivia question. Her selection was the final pick in the draft, which only lasts three rounds of 12 choices. But if s˙he plays in training camp the way she closed at OU, she may be in good shape.

Stevenson averaged 18.2 points in the NCAA Tournament and was named most outstanding player at the Kansas City Regional.

WNBA teams open training camp April 25 ad begin exhibition games just five days later. The WNBA season begins May 15.

Clay Horning 366-3526 cfhorning@normantranscript.com

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