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WNBA DRAFT: UConn's Charles taken No. 1 by Sun; two UGA stars, one Tech, FSU star picked as well

Photo by Sue Ogrocki

Photo by Sue Ogrocki

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) -- It's been an unforgettable 48 hours for Tina Charles.

Less than two days after helping UConn win its second straight national championship, she was selected first by the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA draft on Thursday.

"It's unbelievable, my heart is still pounding out of my chest," Charles said. "I'm more interested what impact I'll have on the team more than just being the No. 1 pick."

Charles averaged more than 18 points and nine rebounds while leading UConn to an NCAA Division I-record 78 straight victories over the past two seasons.

The Sun traded with the Minnesota Lynx to get The Associated Press player of the year, who joins Sue Bird (2002) and Diana Taurasi (2004) as the only UConn players taken with the top overall pick. The three former Huskies as well as Candace Parker (2007) are the only four players to win a national championship and be taken first in the draft the same year.

The Sun also acquired Charles' former teammate, Renee Montgomery, from the Lynx for Monica Wright, the second pick in the draft, and former University of Minnesota star Lindsay Whalen.

"I know that we'll have good chemistry right off the bat," Charles said, when asked about being reuinted with Montgomery.

The Lynx drafted Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin with the third pick, then dealt her to the Sun minutes later for Connecticut's first- and second-round picks next year.

"I was very excited about Minnesota, but Connecticut has a great fan base," Griffin said. "I have talked to the Connecticut coaches and I'm excited to play with Tina Charles. She's such a great player."

Chicago drafted former Rutgers guard Epiphanny Prince with the fourth pick. She was unable to attend the draft because she was playing in Turkey for Botas-Spor, though her mom and dad were on hand. Prince left Rutgers after her junior year to pursue a playing career overseas.

Jayne Appel, who guided Stanford to three straight Final Fours and the national title game this season, was taken fifth by San Antonio. She's recovering from a sprained ankle and stress fracture on an outer bone of her right foot, and was wearing a protective boot.

"I'll need a couple of weeks rest but plan on being fully healed soon," Appel said.

Washington drafted Florida State's Jacinta Monroe with the sixth pick. Kansas forward Danielle McCray was taken by Connecticut with the seventh pick, even though she tore her ACL late in the season and won't be able to play until August.

Oklahoma State star Andrea Riley went eighth to Los Angeles. Rounding out the first round, it was: Mississippi State's Chanel Mokango to Atlanta at No. 9; Iowa State's Alison Lacey to Seattle at No. 10; San Diego State's Jene Morris to Indiana at No. 11; and Mississippi's Bianca Thomas to Los Angeles at No. 12.

New York, which had the original rights to the top choice before trading it last year, took Kalana Greene in the second round.

Tulsa made Oklahoma's Amanda Thompson its first draft choice with the 19th pick. The Shock, who used to be in Detroit before relocating this year, had traded their first-round pick for Amber Holt and Chante Black.

"Our fans were talking about how much they'll miss me," Thompson said. "It will be a great opportunity to still play in front of them."

WNBA teams open training camp April 25. Exhibition games begin April 30 and the league's 14th season will start May 15.

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HOUTS, ROBINSON SELECTED IN TOP 20:

ATHENS --- Ashley Houts and Angel Robinson, teammates and roommates for the Georgia Lady Bulldogs over the past four seasons, enjoyed hearing their names called in the WNBA Draft on Thursday. Well, at least Houts did.

Houts was at a restaurant watching with her parents, Greg and Joni, and brother, Andrew, when she was taken in the second round with the No. 16 overall pick by the New York Liberty.

Four slots later, Robinson was the No. 20 player tabbed by the Los Angeles Sparks.

A fifth-year senior who is pursuing a master's degree in Adult Education, Robinson was working on a paper in a study room in her dorm when she was notified she had been picked, via a text message from Houts.

"I sent her 'congratulations' and she replied 'on what,'" Houts said.

With their selections, a dozen Lady Bulldogs have been chosen in the last 10 editions of the WNBA Draft, including eight first-rounders. Twenty-one Georgia players have gone on to play in the league since its inception in 1997, including eight during the 2009 campaign.

Houts, a 5-6, guard from Trenton, Ga., was a four-year starter for the Lady Bulldogs and also won Gold Medals representing the U.S. at the 2007 U21 World Championships and the 2009 World University Games. She broke the school record for career minutes played and finished No. 14 among Georgia's career scoring leaders with 1,514 points. Houts also ranks No. 3 all-time for the Lady Bulldogs in games played, games started, assists, steals and free throws made.

"I was pretty relieved when they called my name," Houts said. "It's something I've been working for for a long time. To be honest, I don't think it's really hit me yet. To get drafted is great, but what matters the most is to get to training camp. I'm excited about the weeks ahead and looking forward to getting up there, working hard and seeing what I've got to do."

Robinson, a 6-5, forward from Marietta, Ga., became the first Georgia player in two decades to lead the Southeastern Conference in rebounding as a junior. She was a first-team All-SEC pick in the pre-season but was hindered by head and foot injuries during 2009-10. Robinson completed her career ranked No. 25 among the Lady Bulldogs' career scoring leaders with 1,188 points, as well as No. 5 in rebounds and No. 4 in blocked shots.

"I'm very excited," Robinson said. "I'm just enjoying every minute of it. I'm proud for Ashley. My phone has been ringing off the hook. All my friends...If I don't return your call, it's because I have to charge up the battery on my phone. I looking forward to seeing what Ashley and I can do at the professional level. We've learned a lot from Coach Landers during our time at the University of Georgia, and I'm excited about the chance to use that knowledge at the professional level."

On Tuesday, only national champion Connecticut had two players chosen prior to the Georgia duo. Six SEC players were taken in the first two rounds, equaling the Big 12 for the most draftees during that span.

No less than 30 Georgia players have played professionally, either in the U.S. or overseas.

"I'm very excited for and extremely proud of Ashley and Angel," head coach Andy Landers said. "They have been tremendous contributors to our basketball program here at Georgia, and I look forward to watching them continue their playing careers at the next level."

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DREAM TAKE GEORGIA TECH'S ARDOSSI:

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Dream added forwards Chanel Mokango of Mississippi State and Brigitte Ardossi from Georgia Tech with the team's first two picks in the WNBA Draft.

Mokango, a native of Kinshasa, Congo, set the school record with 180 blocked shots in only two seasons at Mississippi State. Ardossi, from Australia, was a four-year starter at Georgia Tech and led the team with 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds last season.

The Dream drafted Texas guard Brittainey Raven in the third round.

Mokango was the ninth pick of the draft.