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Purdueâ€™s Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton is teamâ€™s first round choice, along with Ashley Paris (Oklahoma) and Britney Jordan (Texas A&M-Commerce)
WNBA MVP and Rookie of the Year Candace Parker may be out for a while after giving birth to her first child, but the Los Angeles Sparks gave her some friendly company by drafting a longtime friend.
After selecting Parker last year with the No. 1 overall pick, the Sparks today selected 6-1 Purdue forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton with the 13th and final pick of the first round of the 2009 WNBA Draft.
A first-team All Big-10 selection this year, Wisdom-Hylton sat out the 2007-08 season with a torn ACL but returned this year to lead the Boilermakers to the Elite Eight while averagingÂ 13.3 points ,9.2 rebounds and shooting 51% from the field.
Â â€œIt feels surreal,â€ Wisdom-Hylton said, â€œI never thought Iâ€™d be here and I was happy to just be invited to the draft ceremony.â€
It surprised observers who expected the team to draft a guard after the team signed former Houston Comets forward Tina Thompson in the offseason. But Sparks head coach Michael Cooper said at the teamâ€™s draft party at the ESPNZONE in Downtown that Wisdom-Hylton was drafted to help build the future after the retirement of Lisa Leslie after this year.
â€œShe does a lot of things well,â€ Cooper said, â€œWeâ€™ve been watching her for a while for Purdue so weâ€™re very happy to have her.â€
General manager Penny Toler also praised her versatility and her commitment to the defense â€“ noted by her three-time selection to the Big 10â€™s All-Defensive Team and being named Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2006-07.
â€œYou never pass on talent,â€ Toler said.
The pick also may have given Parker a bit of personal satisfaction. She and Wisdom-Hylton grew up together in Naperville, Illinois and she anticipated having the chance to play alongside once she returns from maternity leave.
â€œLindsay is a great friend of mine,â€ Parker said, â€œIâ€™m very excited for this year.â€
The two played on the same AAU basketball team when they were in junior high and continued to remain in touch. Wisdom-Hylton, anticipates strengthening the friendship now that sheâ€™s out here as well as learning from playing behind her and Lisa Leslie.
â€œYou canâ€™t get any better than learning from two of the best,â€ she said.
The Sparks also selected Oklahoma forward Ashley Paris in the second round (No. 22 overall) and Texas A&M-Commerce guard Britney Jordan in the third round (No. 37 overall).
Paris, whose older sister, Courtney, was drafted No. 7 overall by the Sacramento Kings, faced Wisdom-Hylton in the NCAA Tournament as the Sooners defeated Purdue 74-68 to advance to the Final Four. She admitted she was surprised to slip that low but added that sheâ€™s bringing â€œa positive attitude and a willingness to learnâ€ to Los Angeles.
Toler added that Jordan was a â€œdiamond in the roughâ€ who was highly recruited in high school and averaged 31.3 points last season.
The draft was part of a busy offseason for the Sparks, who made a splash in signing Thompson, an Inglewood native who starred at Morningside High School and USC. And according to Toler, the wheeling and dealing may not be over yet.
â€œFrom now until June 6, the team could look radically different,â€ she said.
Possibly in the mix is free agent guard Betty Lennox, who is said to be leaning towards signing with the Sparks in the coming days.
USC guard Camille LeNoir, formerly of Narbonne High School, was the only local player selected in the draft. She went to the Washington Mystics in the second round (No. 23 overall).