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Five Big Ten players selected in WNBA Draft

Nia Coffey leads Big Ten’s four first-round picks

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Maryland v Northwestern Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Five Big Ten women’s basketball players were selected in the 2017 WNBA Draft in New York on Thursday. The Big Ten had four first-round draft picks, to go along with the first selection of the second round. The group represented four different Big Ten schools, with Maryland being the only conference program with two draft picks.

Northwestern’s Nia Coffey led the way. The 6-foot-1 senior forward was selected fifth overall by the San Antonio Stars. Coffey led Northwestern with 20 points and 10.4 rebounds per game this season, leading the Wildcats to a 20-11 record.

Coffey became the first Northwestern player to be named first-team All-Big Ten in four straight years. She leaves Northwestern with a school-record 1,183 rebounds and 496 made free throws. Coffey is also second in school history in scoring (2,287) and blocks (229).

Maryland’s senior duo of Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones followed Coffey. Walker-Kimbrough went sixth to the Washington Mystics, while Jones was selected eighth by the Connecticut Sun.

Walker-Kimbrough averaged 18.8 points, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game for the 32-3 Terrapins. The 5-foot-11 senior was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten pick and third-team AP All-American this season. Walker-Kimbrough is fourth in program history with 2,156 career points, while also shooting a program-leading 45.9 percent from the three-point line.

Jones was a first-team Associated Press All-American and unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection this season, leading the Terrapins with 19.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. The 6-foot-3 center led the nation by shooting 69 percent from the field, including 70.7 percent in 16 Big Ten games. Jones is the Big Ten record holder in career field-goal percentage (65.0) and is fifth in Maryland history with 1,928 points.

Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska was the Big Ten’s final first-round pick, going ninth overall to the Chicago Sky. A unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection, Jankoska scored a Big Ten-high 22.6 points per game on the year. The 5-foot-8 senior guard also led Michigan State with 8 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.

Shayla Cooper capped off the day for the Big Ten. The Ohio State forward was the first pick of the second round, going 13th overall to the Connecticut Sun. The 6-foot-2 senior averaged 10.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game on her way to a second-team All-Big Ten selection.

It was the third time ever, and first since 2009, that four Big Ten players were selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft. Thursday also marked the second time that the Big Ten has had five of the Top-13 picks, something that also happened at the inaugural WNBA Draft in 1997.