Charli Collier goes to Dallas Wings with first pick in WNBA Draft

15 Apr By
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SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 30: Charli Collier #35 of the Texas Longhorns takes a shot over Aliyah Boston #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA WomenÕs Basketball Tournament at the Alamodome on March 30, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Justin Tafoya//NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas forward/center Charli Collier, who stayed in her home state to play in college, also will remain in the Lone Star State to begin her WNBA career, after she was selected Thursday by the Dallas Wings with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft.

Collier makes Longhorn history as UT's first No. 1 WNBA draft pick, and the third junior taken first overall. She is the second Big 12 player selected with the first pick. Baylor's Brittney Griner went first overall in 2013, to the Phoenix Mercury.

"(It is a) dream come true — amazing," said Collier in a press conference following the draft selection. "I would say right about when they would start the call, when I heard 'Dallas Wings,' I would get the butterflies. The nervousness started to kick in. But I just reacted how I felt. It was just amazing to know that your hard work pays off, no matter what you do, and I feel like the best is still yet to come."

In her final season, she helped lead the Longhorns to an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, averaging a double-double, with 19.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, becoming the second player in program history to average a double-double in multiple seasons (Retha Swindell was the first, in 1976-77 and 1977-78). Collier's 19 double-doubles this season ranked second among all Div. I players, and she scored 20 or more points 17 times.

Collier was a finalist for the Lisa Leslie Award, given to the nation's top center, and earned All-America honors from both the Associated Press and U.S Basketball Writer's Association.

Collier joins a Dallas Wings team that took Awak Kueir, of Finland, with the No. 2 pick in the draft, and later landed former Oregon standout Satou Sabally.

"Definitely, it's so exciting," Collier said. "I can't wait to connect with my team and get it going. Just to have elite talent like that on the Dallas squad, it just makes it so much more fun."

Dallas is set to open the season at 9:30 p.m. (Central time) May 14 at the Los Angeles Sparks.

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley