MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After Bria Holmes became West Virginia’s highest WNBA draft pick, going 11th overall Thursday night, the All-Big 12 guard spoke with Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper.
What she told him made her college coach Mike Carey proud.
“(Cooper) asked if I was ready for defense. I said ‘Of course, I am ready for defense because that is all Coach Carey promotes here,'” she said.
The third-leading scorer in program history, Holmes became the Mountaineers’ first opening-round selection and fifth WNBA draft pick overall. During a watch party with teammates at the WVU practice facility, Holmes was looking at her phone when the Dream submitted their pick.
“I wasn’t really expecting to go in the first round, but my dream actually came true,” Holmes said. “I couldn’t be happier and more proud of myself. All of the things that I have been through in high school and at West Virginia really paved the way for me.”
The 6-foot-1 guard led West Virginia with 16.8 points and 3.7 assists last season, reaching the NCAA tournament for the third time in her career. Holmes scored 2,001 points, became the first WVU player to surpass 500 points in three consecutive seasons and ranks in the school’s top 10 in 14 statistical categories.
“Bria has worked extremely hard for four years,” Carey said. “She has been loyal to the West Virginia program. We are very proud of her, and she has a great opportunity with Atlanta. I think her best basketball is ahead of her.”
The Dream, who finished 15-19 at fifth in the Eastern Conference last season, also chose Baylor’s Niya Johnson among their four picks.
“We wanted Bria to be there for us, and she fell right into our lap,” Cooper said. “We saw the things that she did, and what attracted me to her was her defensive play and the size that she has. It’s very rare that you have players that are 6-foot-1 that can move and do the things that she does.
“She has been on my radar for a while now. At the start of this season, the WNBA has a hit list on the top seniors, and she was right on top. She was a top-16 player, so we had her in our scope for a while, and we are happy that we were able to get her.”
The Mountaineers’ previous WNBA draft picks:
Kate Bulger (2004) Minnesota, third round, 38th overall
Yolanda Paige (2005) Indiana, second round, 16th overall
Olayinka Sanni (2008) Detroit, second round, 18th overall
Aya Bussie (2014) Minnesota, second round, 15th overall