Three Baylor WBB Players Drafted to the WNBA in Historic Night
For the first time in program history, three Baylor women’s basketball players were selected in the same WNBA Draft, with Lauren Cox, Te’a Cooper & Juicy Landrum all selected Friday. Cox went third overall to the Indiana Fever, Cooper was selected 18th overall to the Phoenix Mercury, and Landrum landed 35th overall to the Connecticut Sun.
In an unprecedented virtual draft due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert made selections from her home in New Jersey while ESPN set up remote kits for first-round draft picks to interact with ESPN’s broadcast.
Cox didn’t have to wait long to hear her name called, she was selected third by the Indiana Fever, making her the third-highest selection overall for a Lady Bear. Brittney Griner was the No. 1 overall pick by the Mercury in 2013 and Odyssey Sims was second overall by the Tulsa Shock in 2014.
Cox was a three-time All-American for Baylor with 10 different entities honoring her over three seasons to All-America teams. She left as just the second player in NCAA since 1999 to compile at least 1,500 career points, 975 rebounds, 300 blocks and 300 assists.
The Fever finished 13-21 in the 2019 WNBA season, which ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference. The General Manager of the Fever is Tamika Catchings, who coincidentally, just joined Cox’s Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey as a member of the 2020 Class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Marianne Stanley is the head coach of the Fever, with her first season at the helm last year in 2019. As a college coach, Stanley amassed 441wins, including an NCAA title in 1985 at Old Dominion.
Cox was the first Baylor player ever drafted by the Indiana franchise.
“We are extremely excited about having Lauren Cox come and join our organization. Can’t say enough about this young lady,” said Catchings. “We had the opportunity to talk with her in pre-draft interviews and she has been phenomenal to talk to. What she does on the court is nothing compared to the type of person that she is.”
Cooper was selected in the second round, 18th overall, by the Phoenix Mercury. With her second-round selection, it marked just the third time in history that two Baylor players were selected in the top two rounds. Sheila Lambert and Danielle Crockrom were each selected in the first round of the 2002 WNBA draft, and Kalani Brown and Chloe Jackson were selected in the first and second rounds, respectively in last year’s draft.
Cooper will join former Baylor standout and 2012 No. 1 overall draft pick Brittney Griner in Phoenix. The Mercury finished 15-19 in the 2019 season and fifth in the Western Conference. The General Manager of the Mercury is Jim Pitman and the head coach is Sandy Brondello. Brondello has been the head coach for six seasons in Phoenix, which included a WNBA Championship in her first season in 2014.
“Te’a Cooper was someone we were considering drafting at 10. For her to fall to 18 was a real bonus. She has a great WNBA body, she gets most of her points from the three or the free-throw line,” said Pitman. “She’s a great on-ball defender, and those are characteristics we want from our guards moving forward.”
Cooper was named honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press, the USBWA and the WBCA after her graduate transfer season at Baylor. She averaged 13.6 points per contest, shot career-bests in both field goal percentage (.438) and 3-point field goal percentage (.415), and collected a career-high 137 assists in 30 games on her way to Big 12 co-Newcomer of the Year honors.
Landrum was selected in the third round by the Connecticut Sun with the 11th pick, 35th overall. The Sun finished 23-11 overall and second in the Eastern Conference in 2019. The Sun advanced to the WNBA Finals and fell in the fifth-and-deciding game to the Washington Mystics. The general manager of the Sun is Curt Miller, and he serves as the head coach, leading the Sun to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.
“We did not expect Juicy to be around at our third-round pick. She’s someone we valued highly going into this draft. She plays for one of the elite coaches in the game in Kim Mulkey and has won a national championship,” said Miller. “Clearly, she’s one of the great shooters out there. When you talk to the Baylor people they’ll equally talk to you about her defensive ability and her ability to get stops and her dedication at that end of the player. So, I think we’re getting a two-way player in camp, and considering the 35th pick, another steal at that point in the draft.”
The outside sharp shooter left Baylor as third all-time in both 3-point field goals made (170) and 3-point field goal percentage (.403). She was an All-Big 12 Second-Team selection as a junior and an honorable mention selection as a senior. She averaged a career-best 1.1 steals per contest as a senior, and she set an NCAA, Big 12 and Baylor single-game record with 14 3-point field goals vs. Arkansas State, Dec. 18.
While the draft, originally set in New York City, continued as planned – the league has not announced its plans for training camp or whether or not the WNBA will have a 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cox, Cooper and Landrum were the 17th, 18th and 19th Baylor players selected, respectively, in program history.