Maybe the most significant draft pick in Phoenix sports history?
That will remain to be seen. But one thing is for certain, there is a buzz around Phoenix Mercury basketball after the team drafted former Baylor Bear Brittney Griner number one overall in the WNBA draft on April 15th.
Griner was one of the most decorated basketball players ever, man or woman, in college basketball history. She led Baylor to a 106-5 record in her final three seasons and in her career, became the first player ever to record 2,000 points and 500 blocks.
On Saturday, Griner made her way to her new home of Phoenix for the first time ever and was introduced in front of media and then a crowd of excited fans.
“I am excited to be here,” said Griner. “I’m ready to start. Wish I could move in tomorrow and start playing. I hope I can live up to everything everyone is expecting me to live up to. Hope I can bring those alley-oops, dunks, blocked shots and all of that.”
“Brittney is a game-changer,” explained Mercury head coach Corey Gaines. “She can defend, score, pass and run the floor. She has the whole package. She creates a world of problems for opponents and will open up new opportunities for our already-talented roster of playmakers.”
How much intrigue has Griner brought to the Mercury since she was drafted? Team President and Chief Operating Officer Amber Cox has the specifics.
“Already we have done more in new season ticket sales than we did in 2010 and that was the year after we won our second WNBA championship,” she stated. “In the 36 hours after the draft, the time spent on PhoenixMercury.com was equivalent to one person being on the website for 24 straight hours for 72 consecutive days.”
“So people are really excited about this young lady,” Cox added. “And the excitement around this team is like nothing I have ever seen in my nine years with the Mercury.”
Despite what nay-sayers out there might say, Coach Gaines and the staff is excited to add Griner not just because of how great of a player she is, but because of how he thinks she will fit their up-tempo style of play.
“It’s funny because the system is really built around a big player,” Gaines explained. “We just never had one. That was a problem, we never had one so we had to make adjustments and we had to make different changes to it to fit the players we had. Now we do have one so I think she fits our style perfectly.”
“This big girl likes to run,” Griner joked. “These long strides. I’m ready for it. I don’t think I’ll have a problem with it at all. I like this style of play though. It will be different than what I am used to, but am definitely willing and able to get adjusted and start playing.”
Griner will move to Phoenix for good on May 5th before the start of training camp leading up to game one of the 2013 season for Griner along with Diana Turasi and Penny Taylor on May 27th at the US Airways Center.