MORGANTOWN – West Virginia University senior guard Bria Holmes became the highest Mountaineer ever selected in the WNBA Draft with her first round, 11th overall selection by the Atlanta Dream on Thursday evening. Holmes is the fifth Mountaineer to be picked in the WNBA Draft, all of which have occurred under coach Mike Carey’s tenure.
“It has always been a dream of mine to play in the WNBA, and to finally get drafted, especially in the first round, it was a bitter sweet moment,” Holmes said. “I wasn’t really expecting to go in the first round, but my dream actually came true. 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.”
“Bria has worked extremely hard for four years,” coach Mike 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.”
Holmes is the highest Mountaineer selected in the WNBA Draft, surpassing the previous best of Asya Bussie’s 15th overall selection by Minnesota in 2014. The New Haven, Connecticut, native is also the highest draft pick selection for a Connecticut native player.
Holmes finished her illustrious career at WVU with 2,001 points – the third most in program history. She became the first player at West Virginia to score 500 or more points in three consecutive seasons and ranks in WVU’s top-10 in 14 different statistical categories. She earned Senior CLASS Award Second-Team All-American honors, while picking up All-America Honorable Mention by the Associated Press and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Holmes was a three-time unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection.
The 6-foot-1 guard led West Virginia with 16.8 points and 3.7 assists per game and tallied 589 points with 145 rebounds in 35 contests. With her 21 points against Ohio State on March 20, Holmes became the third Mountaineer in program history to reach the 2,000-point plateau.
Holmes joins the Atlanta Dream, who finished 15-19 and placed fifth in the Eastern Conference last season. Atlanta, coached by Michael Cooper, also selected Rutger’s Rachel Hollivay, Texas A&M’s Courtney Walker and Baylor’s Niya Johnson on Thursday. Holmes is the first-ever WVU player selected by Atlanta in the draft. However, Yelena Leuchanka played the 2010 season with Atlanta as a free agent.
“We have been crossing our fingers all season long, especially when the draft started tonight,” said coach Cooper. “We wanted Bria (Holmes) to be there for us, and she fell right into our lap. There are a lot of wants that people want out of the draft, and very seldom do you get your needs filled. We definitely got our needs filled tonight. I think Bria (Holmes) is going to have an excellent career with great opportunities for her to make our ball club.”
Four other Mountaineers have been previously drafted in the WNBA: Kate Bulger (Minnesota – 2004), Yolanda Paige (Indiana – 2005), Olayinka Sanni (Detroit – 2008) and Bussie (Minnesota – 2014). Additionally, Lechanka played three seasons in the WNBA with three different franchises as a free agent (Charlotte, Washington and Atlanta).
WVU All-Time WNBA Draft Picks
Name Team Year Rd Pick Kate Bulger Minnesota 2004 3 38, Yolanda Paige Indiana 2005 2 16, Olayinka Sanni Detroit 2008 2 18, Asya Bussie Minnesota 2014 2 15, Bria Holmes Atlanta 2016 1 11