Looking to build on last year's first postseason appearance since 2012, the Connecticut Sun selected Duke third-team All-Star American guard Lexie Brown with the ninth pick of the first round in Thursday's WNBA Draft.
"I am excited with her versatility at the one and the two, the ability to really stretch the floor in the one and two," Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller said. "She is such a great defender, anticipating for four years in that zone. Off the ball defensively, but she could also be on the ball. I think you win with small-guard play in this league."
Brown, 5 feet 9, is only the third women's player from a Power Five conference to accumulate over 2,000 points, 500 assists, 300 steals and 200 three-pointers. Before joining Duke, Brown played her first two seasons at Maryland.
"When I had my name called and Connecticut made their pick I was definitely excited," Brown said. "They (Sun) have a really talented team and a healthy locker room environment."
Brown is the daughter of former Boston Celtic Dee Brown.
"He was super excited, more nervous than I was, and he held my hand the entire time saying 'I am coming next, coming next, coming next' in every pick," Lexie said. "I am just super excited to be apart of the Connecticut family for sure."
The Sun got their draft day started early when they acquired New Haven native Bria Holmes from Atlanta with a second-round pick and closed things out by selecting Cal forward Mikayla Cowlling with the ninth pick of the third round.
Cowling is one of four players in California history with 1,000 points and 400 assists. The Californian native was also a two-time Pac 12 All-Defensive Team player.
In the 2017-18 season, Cowling averaged 9.3 points, 4.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. The 6'2'' guard started 111 consecutive games for Cal before being forced to sit out a January game at Arizona with a concussion.
Miller said it was a difficult decision to pick between Brown and UConn guard Kia Nurse, who went with the next pick to the New York Liberty, but says he knew in his heart it was the right decision to go with Brown.
Brown averaged 19.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this season. In just two seasons as a Blue Devil, Brown ranked 22nd in points (1,263), third in scoring average (18.9), ninth in three-point field goals made (142), 10th in three-point field goals attempted (369), second in free throw percentage (.875), tied fourth in assist average (4.1), ninth in steals (218), first in steals average (3.3) and first in minutes per game (34.6).
The trade for Holmes was the second Sun deal involving a pick. Earlier this year, the Sun acquired center Cayla George from the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for a second-round pick (21st overall).
"We are ecstatic about the opportunity to acquire Bria Holmes from Atlanta and look forward to her return for the 2019 season," Miller said in a statement. "Bria is an outstanding wing who will thrive in our up-tempo offensive system. She has great length and has already proven to be a disruptive defender at the WNBA level. It is exciting to bring Bria back to the state of Connecticut where she enjoyed great success in high school."
Holmes is a Connecticut native who went to Hillhouse High School in New Haven. She won three state championships there before gong to West Virginia.
In her first two years in the WNBA, Holmes averaged 7.6 points and 2.7 assists. She will not play in the 2018 season, however, due to her pregnancy.
The Sun finished the season with a 21-13 record resulting in their first playoff appearance in five years under Miller's leadership. Despite losing in the second round to the Phoenix Mercury, Connecticut is hoping with the new draft acquisitions and adding it to the young core the team currently has it will give the Sun a chance to make a serious run in the WNBA Playoffs.
The Sun kick off the 2018 season May 12 at 1 p.m. against the Las Vegas Aces at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
1. Las Vegas, A'ja Wilson, C, South Carolina
2. Indiana, Kelsey Mitchell, G, Ohio State
3. Chicago (from Atlanta), Diamond DeShields, G, Tennessee/Turkey
4. Chicago, Gabby Williams, F, UConn
5. Seattle, Jordin Canada, G, UCLA
6. Dallas, Azura Stevens, F, UConn
7. Washington, Ariel Atkins, G, Texas
8. Indiana (from Phoenix), Victoria Vivians, G, Mississippi State
9. Connecticut, Lexie Brown, G, Duke
10. New York, Kia Nurse, G, UConn
11. Los Angeles, Maria Vadeeva, C, Russia
12. Phoenix (from Minnesota), Marie Gulich, C, Oregon State
13. Las Vegas, Jamie Nared, G/F, Tennessee
14. Indiana, Stephanie Mavunga, F, Ohio State
15. Atlanta (from Connecticut), Monique Billings, F, UCLA
16. Atlanta (from Chicago), Kristy Wallace, G, Baylor
17. Minnesota (from Seattle), Ji-Su Park, C, South Korea
18. Dallas, Loryn Goodwin, G, Oklahoma State
19. Washington, Myisha Hines-Allen, F, Louisville
20. Phoenix, Tyler Scaife, G, Rutgers
21. Phoenix (from Connecticut), Raisa Musina, F, Russia
22. New York, Mercedes Russell, C, Tennessee
23. Los Angeles, Shakayla Thomas, F, Florida State
24. Minnesota, Kahlia Lawrence, G, Mercer
25. Las Vegas, Raigyne Moncrief Louis, G, LSU
26. Phoenix (from Indiana through Las Vegas), Imani Wright, G, Florida State
27. Atlanta, Mackenzie Engram, F, Georgia
28. Chicago, Amarah Coleman, G, DePaul
29. Seattle, Teana Muldrow, F, West Virginia
30. Dallas, Natalie Butler, C, George Mason
31. Washington, Rebecca Greenwell, G, Duke
32. Las Vegas (from Phoenix), Jill Barta, F, Gonzaga
33. Connecticut, Milayla Cowling, F, California
34. New York, Leslie Robinson F, Princeton
35. Los Angeles, Julia Reisingerova, C, Czech Republic
36. Minnesota, Carlie Wagner, G, Minnesota