Senior Boyette invited to WNBA Draft

Jasmine C. Johnson

Senior center Imani Boyette’s first basketball memory came long before she picked up a basketball herself.

It was of her mother Pam McGee, a two-time NCAA champion and Olympic gold medalist.

“My first memory would be probably around two or three, and she played for the Sparks with Lisa Leslie,” Boyette said. “So that was my great memory, watching my mom, [me] being tugged around to practice and all of that stuff.”

Nearly two decades later, the 6-foot-7-inches Los Angeles native is in a position to make a WNBA memory of her own at the 2016 WNBA Draft on Thursday, April 14 at 7 p.m. After averaging 13.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game and being named the Big 12 Conference Female Sportsperson of the Year, Boyette has gained WNBA coaches’ attention.

One coach who has his eye on Boyette is Dallas Wings head coach Fred Williams. Despite saying he “wants to eat his beans, so I don’t want to spill them,” Williams admitted to considering Boyette as the team’s targeted pick.

“I can say that she’s really, really high on our list to look at in that selection of three players that could be there for us,” Williams said. “And I can really tell you that she’s a post player that we’re strongly considering.”

The Wings aren’t the only team looking for big players up front. Seattle Storm head coach Jenny Boucek said there’s a need for players with Boyette’s size throughout the league.

“If you want to compete for championships in our league, you’ve got to be able to deal with [Brittney] Griner and Tina Charles and some of these great post players, preferably without a double-team,” Boucek said. “So I think she brings value.”

Boyette was one of 12 players selected to attend the 2016 WNBA Draft in Uncasville, Connecticut, and is predicted by’s mock draft as the 10th overall pick by the Chicago Sky.

But even with a mother with extensive WNBA experience and a NBA brother in Javale McGee, Boyette said there’s no way to be prepared for what’s to come. Having to balance graduation, finals and preparation for the WNBA hasn’t helped either.

“I’m very much in school, and the WNBA is going to start while I’m still in school, so I don’t have very much time to be distracted,” Boyette said. “Because I’ve kind of got to get my schoolwork in order and figure out graduation plans and finals and all that stuff.”

Her mom advised her to be confident in what she does well, but her big brother offered other words of wisdom. 

“[He was] like, ‘Sit back and enjoy it,’” Boyette said. “This is going to go so fast, so just, like, take everything in.”