Natie Novosel and Devereaux Peters were both first round WNBA draft picks Monday. (Daily News Photo/File)

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Novosel, Peters first round WNBA picks

Published 10:50pm Monday, April 16, 2012

NOTRE DAME — The Notre Dame women’s basketball program added another milestone in its historic 2011-12 season, as, for the first time, the Fighting Irish had two players selected in the first round of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft that was held Monday afternoon at the ESPN Studio in Bristol, Conn.

Fifth-year senior All-America forward/tri-captain Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) became the highest-drafted Notre Dame player in program history, going No. 3 overall to the reigning WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx. Five picks later, senior All-America guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) was selected with the No. 8 pick by the Washington Mystics. Notre Dame was one of two schools to have multiple players chosen in the first round of this year’s WNBA Draft, with Peters and Novosel becoming the first Fighting Irish players to go in the first round since 2001, when consensus National Player of the Year and three-time All-America center Ruth Riley was taken with the No. 5 overall pick by the Miami Sol (the only first-round selection in program history prior to Monday afternoon).

The twin selections of Peters and Novosel give Notre Dame nine WNBA Draft picks, all since 2001. The current Fighting Irish duo were the first Fighting Irish player chosen in the WNBA Draft since 2008, when Charel Allen was selected in the third round (43rd overall pick) by the Sacramento Monarchs.

Peters also becomes the third Notre Dame player drafted by Minnesota, with the Chicago native following in the footsteps of Jacqueline Batteast (2005 – second round, 17th overall) and Megan Duffy (2006 – third round, 31st overall).

“We’re excited to welcome Devereaux to the organization,” said Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith. “With the third pick, we were looking to improve to our team’s depth. Devereaux’s tremendous energy, especially on the defensive end, will be a valuable asset for our team in the years to come.”

“It was a complete and total shock,” Peters said. “I’m just extremely excited that I got picked by Minnesota. I can’t wait to get out there and start training camp and do whatever I can to already continue the amazing squad they have over there.”

Meanwhile, Novosel will be the third Notre Dame player to join Washington’s roster, and first since 2002, when Katryna Gaither played a handful of games for the Mystics. The program’s all-time leading scorer, Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, also saw time in a Washington uniform during the 2000 season. In addition, Novosel is the second person with Fighting Irish ties in the past 10 days to relocate to our nation’s capital — on April 6, nine-year associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis was named the head coach at George Washington.

“Natalie gives us a player with three-point shooting ability and versatility,” said Washington General Manager/Head Coach Trudi Lacey. “She also brings a team-first mentality and we are very excited to have her on our roster.”

“I’m ready to go to Washington to be a contributor,” Novosel said. “Whatever role they want me to play, I’m ready to fill it. My heart hasn’t stopped racing since being drafted and I can’t wait to get to Washington!”

Peters and her new Minnesota teammates will open preseason play at 7 p.m. May 10 when they take on the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Following a second exhibition game at 1 p.m. May 15 against Ruth Riley and the Chicago Sky at the University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Peters and the Lynx will open the 2012 WNBA regular season at 12:30 p.m. May 20 in their normal home arena, the Target Center in Minneapolis, against the Phoenix Mercury — the game will be televised live nationally on ABC.

Novosel will make her professional debut not too far from the Notre Dame campus at 8 p.m. May 10, when Washington travels to the Chicagoland area for an exhibition game against the Sky at Gates Gymnasium on the campus of New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill. The Mystics also will play host to a preseason contest against the Connecticut Sun at 7 p.m. May 14 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., before opening the regular season at home May 19 at 7 p.m. against Chicago.

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