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Kristy Wallace set to realise her WNBA Dream in Atlanta
Despite suffering an ACL injury that will keep her out of the 2018 season, Baylor’s Australian senior Kristy Wallace has been selected by the Atlanta Dream with the 16th overall pick of the WNBA Draft.
The Dream, who drafted fellow Australian Rachel Jarry with the 18th pick in 2011, selected Wallace with the second of two consecutive picks alongside UCLA forward Monique Billings, who owns that school’s all-time blocks record. Wallace is the first Australian player to be drafted out of college since Iowa State’s Alison Lacey was taken by Seattle with the 10th overall pick in 2010, winning a WNBA Championship alongside Lauren Jackson and Abby Bishop in her only season in the league.
In a draft brimming with talent to the point that teams have had their eye on this class for at least two or three seasons, Wallace joined a number of potentially game-changing players in hearing their name called on a night that instantly changed the potential career path of 36 of the world’s finest young basketball players.
Las Vegas Aces’ overall #1 pick A’ja Wilson won three consecutive SEC Player of the Year awards at South Carolina, the first player to do so, whilst overall #2 pick Kelsey Mitchell, selected by the Indiana Fever, moved into second place all-time for scoring in NCAA Division I late in the season.
Wallace enjoyed an outstanding senior season, leading Baylor to their eighth consecutive Big 12 regular season title before injury unfortunately struck the Lady Bears star down at the worst possible time, on the final day of the regular season. Up to that point, Wallace had led by example for Baylor, averaging 12.9 points, 5.3 assists, and 5 rebounds per game whilst picking up a unanimous All-Big 12 first team selection as well as a Big 12 All-Defensive Team selection for her trademark efforts at the other end of the court.
The Australian point guard also saw time in the national setup prior to her senior season, joining the Opals for a camp prior to the FIBA Asian Cup in 2017. Whilst Wallace was ultimately not selected to the roster for that tournament, the camp selection evidenced her ability as a potentially elite player.
The Atlanta side features two-time Olympic gold medalist Angel McCoughtry at the small forward spot, as well as a pair of 2017 All-Stars in the back court in Layshia Clarendon and Tiffany Hayes. However, having missed the playoffs after winning just 12 games in 2017, Atlanta are certainly a team building for the future, and with Wallace unavailable for the 2018 season, this is certainly a pick for the future. Wallace was also the only guard taken among the Dream’s three picks, with the Atlanta side taking Georgia power forward and Atlanta local Mackenzie Engram with the 27th overall pick.
The question now remains though as to how Wallace recovers from her injury. With her quickness, both laterally and up and down the court, being hallmarks of her game, the Australian will have to prove that she can still exhibit that same speed that has proven to be a valuable asset for the past four years once she returns to the court. However, a player with the work ethic that Wallace has shown will no doubt do absolutely everything in her power to make sure that that is the case.