Notre Dame’s Loyd picked No. 1 by Seattle

Published 9:05 pm Thursday, April 16, 2015

UNCASVILLE, Connecticut — For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball program was represented near the top of the first round in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft, as junior guard Jewell Loyd was selected by the Seattle Storm with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft that was held Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) is the first No. 1 WNBA draft selection in school history, with three Fighting Irish alumnae previously sharing the honor as the highest player chosen in program annals — Devereaux Peters (’11) went third overall in the 2012 WNBA Draft to the Minnesota Lynx, Skylar Diggins (’13) followed suit in 2013 when she was chosen third by the Tulsa Shock, and Kayla McBride (’14) most recently was selected in that No. 3 spot last year by the San Antonio Stars.

What’s more, Notre Dame becomes the first school in the 19-year history of the WNBA Draft to produce WNBA draft lottery (or equivalent top-four) picks in four consecutive years, surpassing Connecticut, which had a three-year run of WNBA top-four choices from 2009-11.

Loyd, who will be the first Fighting Irish player ever to suit up for the Seattle Storm, also gives Notre Dame six first-round WNBA Draft picks in the past four seasons (all within the top nine overall selections), as well as seven first-round selections in school history and 13 total draftees since 2001. In addition to Peters, Diggins and McBride going at No. 3 the past three years, Natalie Novosel (’12) went eighth overall in the first round of the 2012 WNBA Draft to the Washington Mystics, and Natalie Achonwa (’14) was chosen ninth in the first round of last year’s WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever.

Former three-time All-America center and 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley (’01) was the first Fighting Irish player selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft. Weeks after leading Notre Dame to its first NCAA championship in 2001, Riley was chosen with the No. 5 overall pick by the Miami Sol before that franchise folded two years later. She then was taken No. 1 overall in the 2003 WNBA Dispersal Draft by the Detroit [now Tulsa] Shock.

Loyd announced last week she would forego her senior season at Notre Dame to enter the WNBA Draft, an option available to her due to a league rule that permits players to submit their name for draft consideration if they will turn 22 years old during the calendar year of the draft (Loyd’s 22nd birthday is October 5).

Loyd is less than two weeks removed from helping lead Notre Dame to its fifth consecutive NCAA Women’s Final Four appearance and fourth national championship game berth in five years. The Fighting Irish posted a 108-6 (.947) record during her three seasons, winning three consecutive outright conference regular-season titles (2013 in the BIG EAST; 2014 and 2015 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) and three consecutive conference tournament crowns (2013 in BIG EAST; 2014 and 2015 in ACC), while posting a staggering 47-1 (.979) regular season league record in the past three seasons (57-1 including postseason tournament play), including undefeated 19-0 combined regular season/tournament records in 2013 (BIG EAST) and 2014 (ACC – the first-ever by a league member in its inaugural season and first by any ACC squad since 2002-03).

In 2014-15, Loyd became the fifth Fighting Irish player to garner consensus first-team All-America honors. She collected first-team All-America citations this season from the Associated Press (unanimous selection), the John R. Wooden Award, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), United States Basketball Writers’ Association (USBWA) and espnW, which also chose her as the espnW National Player of the Year, the first Notre Dame player to earn a national player-of-the-year award since Riley in 2001.