James Neveau

Chicago Sky Select Alaina Coates in WNBA Draft

Coates averaged 12.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in the 2016-17 season

The Chicago Sky owned two picks in the first round of the WNBA Draft on Thursday night, and with the second overall pick in the draft they chose center Alaina Coates out of the University of South Carolina.

Coates, a key member of the Gamecocks squad that ultimately went on to win the national championship, didn’t get to play in the postseason after suffering an ankle injury, but before she was hurt she averaged 12.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, and she was a dominant presence in the paint for the team.

“It’s really exciting,” Coates told reporters. “My heart was pumping really fast. I was hoping to hear my name called. I’m happy to have my family and friends here with me, so it’s quite a memory.”

It’s unclear at this point when Coates will be able to take the floor for the Sky, as the ankle injury she suffered kept her out of the last games of SEC play for the Gamecocks, and she used a knee scooter to get around the stage at the draft show in New York.

“I don’t want to come out and try to rush it,” she said. “Whenever it’s time for me to get back out there, I’m going to take it slow doing the basis, and just take it from there.”

The pick used to draft Coates was acquired in a trade earlier this year with the Washington Mystics, who sent the pick and Kahleah Copper and Stefanie Dolson to the Sky in exchange for star forward Elena Delle Donne, who had indicated that she was unwilling to sign with the Sky as she approached restricted free agency.

With the ninth pick in the draft, the Sky chose guard Tori Jankoska out of Michigan State. The all-time leading scorer in Michigan State history, Jankoska averaged 22.6 points per game and dished out 4.8 assists per game in her final season in Lansing.

In the second round, the Sky took forward Chantel Osahor out of Washington, and with their final pick of the draft in the third round, they also took Makayla Epps, a guard from the University of Kentucky.

The Sky will open the 2017 regular season on May 14 when they take on the Minnesota Lynx in a road game, and their first home game will come on May 19 when they take on the Atlanta Dream at Allstate Arena.

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