WNBA Draft: 2 Longhorns selected to play professionally

Robert Trevino

The 2020 WNBA Draft saw two Longhorns join some of the best teams in the professional ranks, as senior forward Joyner Holmes and senior point guard Sug Sutton were taken 19th and 36th overall by the Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics, respectively.

Friday’s draft marked the first time since 2005 that multiple Texas players have been drafted in the same year. Holmes and Sutton add to the list of Longhorns to make it to the next level, as they are the 11th and 12th players to be selected in the WNBA Draft.

Holmes, who was selected to three All-Big 12 teams in her time at Texas and was a Top-10 finalist for the Katrina McClain Award that recognizes the best power forward in collegiate basketball in her senior season, will join a Storm team looking for a return to their winning ways. 

The Storm won the WNBA Finals in 2018, but lost stars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird to injury. ESPN.com’s WNBA Power Rankings have them ranked second entering the 2020 season, which has been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus.

Storm head coach Dan Hughes had plenty of praise for Holmes after drafting the promising prospect out of Austin.

“We were very high on Joyner. When you see her play, you see someone that is kind of unique,” Hughes said. “She has a pro body. She moves really quickly and strongly. She has a face-up game. There's no denying she has a big upside. We wanted to work with that upside.”

Holmes, who set the school record for most consecutive double-doubles with seven in her senior year, should give the Storm a reliable rebounding and scoring option. Holmes scored at least 10 points in 70 of her 114 games as a Longhorn.

“As I have said many times, the best is yet to come for Joyner,” former Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “She had hardships in college that slowed her progress, but she finished her senior year with a new sense of purpose and growth. I’m so proud of her, and I’m excited to see her blossom in the WNBA.”

As for Sutton, she will join the defending champions in the Mystics, who rank at the top of ESPN’s WNBA power rankings as the favorite for next year. She will also join fellow Longhorn alum Ariel Atkins, who was taken seventh overall by the Mystics in 2018 and has been instrumental in Washington’s recent success.

The Mystics could use Sutton as a crucial supportive piece for a title defense in the upcoming season.

“Sug has the right demeanor to play in our league. She’s got some things to learn, but she knows how to push the tempo,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said. “We felt that we wanted to see a good point guard come into our camp and compete with our veterans for a spot.”

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Aston, Sutton’s former head coach, also had praise for her starting point guard, who had 65 starts in 131 career starts and finished ninth in program history in career assists with 419.

“Sug was such a joy to coach, and I know she will be a huge asset to the Mystics,” Aston said. “She is a gym rat and a student of the game. I’m thrilled for her that she gets to continue playing, mainly because she has a true passion for the game.”

Holmes and Sutton will compete for roster spots on two of the top teams in the WNBA, and although the status of the 2020 season is unclear, what is clear is that two of the best rosters in the WNBA just got a little bit better.