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Charli Collier is first pick in WNBA draft

Charli Collier, a center at the University of Texas, was chosen No.1 by the Dallas Wings in the WNBA draft which took place virtually Thursday, fulfilling her late father’s dream of being the first choice. Collier, a Texas native who was supposed to be the first pick, is averaging 19 points and 11.3 rebounds per game during the 2020-2021 season.

Collier, surrounded by her mother, brother and boyfriend, pointed to the sky as she was heralded as the first choice.

“We sat in the hospital bed and wrote down our goals,” she said, referring to her father, Elliott. “He was one of them. He’s here with me.

The Wings had the No. 2 pick and added the No. 1 pick in a trade with the Seattle Storm, which had acquired the first pick in a trade with the Liberty. It was the first time in league history that a team had the top two picks. This will be the 25th season for the WNBA.

Last season was played in a bubble environment – affectionately known as the “wubble” – at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Due to the pandemic. This season will take place in the teams’ home towns, some with a limited number of supporters, as recommended by local health officials.

The season ends on May 14, when Liberty hosts the Indiana Fever at Barclays Center. Each team will play 32 games in the regular season, compared to the usual 36, with reduced travel due to the pandemic. The league, which has been ahead of the rest in social justice talks, plans to continue those efforts this season, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said on Tuesday.

“The players want to be on the change, and they want to be part of that change,” she said. “Whether it’s civic engagement, the right to vote, health equity or other issues that many of them are passionate about, I can’t wait to see what they do this. year and to manage the crises which will present themselves to us. “

Engelbert also said the league is open to expansion as women’s sports have gained more attention in recent years. Audience for the 2020 WNBA Finals grew 15% year over year, according to ESPN. The draft came as the spotlight turned to inequalities between male and female athletes, with a focus on the differences in facilities, tests and meals at the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments.

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