Underclassmen Jewell Loyd, Amanda Zahui B. go 1-2 in draft

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Jewell Loyd and Amanda Zahui B. shared a hug after they were taken with the top two picks in the WNBA draft. The underclassmen's decisions to turn pro were justified.

Loyd went first to the Seattle Storm, and Zahui B. was taken second by the Tulsa Shock on Thursday night.

"For me, it was the best thing," Loyd said about skipping her senior year at Notre Dame. "For (Zahui), it was the best thing for her."

Zahui B., who is a redshirt sophomore at Minnesota, said she doesn't know if this will be a trend with underclassmen turning pro. The league has strict rules, and both players were eligible because they will turn 22 this year.

"I'm not really sure, both me and Jewell are very unique players," Zahui B. said. "Whoever wants to do it, be sure about it. Make sure you're happy. This feeling is amazing."

Loyd was the first Notre Dame player to be taken No. 1, an honor that Loyd said jokingly she will remind former teammate Skylar Diggins of. Diggins was taken third by Tulsa two years ago.

"It's the first time I've beaten Skylar in anything,'' Loyd said, laughing.

It has been a whirlwind week for Loyd since declaring for the draft. She was out in Los Angeles for the Wooden Award and got a chance to meet her idol Kobe Bryant at a Lakers game. The two have been friends on Twitter for months.

"He hit me up on Twitter after the championship game loss and told me to hang in there,'' Loyd said. "It was great to meet him in Los Angeles.''

Loyd said the two have chatted many times on Twitter and she's honored to call him a mentor.

One thing Loyd was disappointed about was that she had to miss Notre Dame's final team banquet earlier this week, at which she earned MVP honors for the Irish.

"I was sad I didn't get a chance to talk to the fans,'' she said. "To me this wasn't goodbye, but I'll see you later.''

Loyd said she definitely plans on going back to Notre Dame and finishing her degree.

In Seattle, Loyd will be joined by UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who was taken third by the Storm.

"It's great going back to the West Coast," said Mosqueda-Lewis, who was born in California. "It definitely will be easier for my family to see me play."

Duke senior Elizabeth Williams went fourth to the Connecticut Sun. Chicago took former Middle Tennessee State player Cheyenne Parker with the fifth pick. Parker was dismissed from Middle Tennessee State in late February for a failed drug test for marijuana.

Dearica Hamby was picked sixth by San Antonio, making her the first Wake Forest player to be taken in the WNBA draft.

"It's a great feeling, I'm glad I could be the person to be the stepping stone for Wake," Hamby said. "I definitely think it's a stepping stone. You don't have to go to some big time school to be successful."

Crystal Bradford of Central Michigan went seventh to the Los Angeles Sparks and Dayton's Ally Malott was drafted eighth by Washington.

For the second straight season, the New York Liberty made a trade on draft night. A year after acquiring Tina Charles, New York jumped into the first round to get Brittany Boyd and Kiah Stokes. The Liberty moved Alex Montgomery and Anna Cruz.

"We were surprised Boyd was still available,'' said Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer. "She was an obvious choice; she enhances our ability to attack the basket. She can really fill up a stats sheet. Our objective in moving up in the draft was specifically to acquire Kiah Stokes. Her athleticism, length, and basketball IQ are the collective characteristics of where the New York Liberty are heading. We are thrilled with both picks.''

Defending champion Phoenix closed out the first round, taking Isabelle Harrison of Tennessee. The senior forward tore the ACL in her right knee in February. She had surgery in early March and was still on crutches.

The ceremony was held at the Mohegan Sun for the second straight year. A spirited crowd, which included many of the UConn women's basketball players, cheered on the picks.

Training camps open May 17, and the WNBA's 19th season tips off June 5.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.