Game on Game on!
As you all know, the WNBA Draft was held April 12,2018 on ESPN2 to announce the new draft picks for the 2018 WNBA season. We, at Chicks into Sports, love all WNBA squads but our loyalty will always lie with our home team, the Atlanta Dream! The Atlanta Dream had 3 picks, two in the second round and one in the third. In the second round, at the fifteenth pick, the Dream selected Monique Billings from UCLA. Also in the second round, directly after Monique, the Dream selected Kristy Wallace from Baylor. In the third round, at the twenty-seventh pick, the Dream selected Mackenzie Engram from UGA! Lucky us, we got a chance to chat with Head Coach Nicki Collen after the draft ended so that she could share with us her thoughts on her new players and how the night went for her.
Post Draft Interview w/ Coach Nicki Collen,
Yakiri: Because of the loss of Sancho Lyttle and Bria Holmes and with the return of Angel Mccoughtry, are we rebuilding the Dream or is that in the cards? What’s going on?
Coach Nicki: I would say that this is not a rebuild. I think that we’re adding players that give us great success and continue to let us play the way we want to play.
Yakiri: Tonight it was mentioned that there was an overwhelming rollercoaster of emotions happening. I just wonder how are you feeling after this awesome, emotional night?
Coach Nicki: The rollercoaster had dips but not big drops. I think it made the first round a little stressful as we watched things unfold. We saw the options we had, being pick 15 and 16 and so definitely emotional but a lot of fun! I’ve got a great staff, a great office and it’s really been fun to share with the whole Dream franchise.
Errica: After acquiring Monique Billings, Kristy Wallace and Mackenzie Engram, what are you predictions for them and their expectations towards them for this season?
Coach Nicki: For those players specifically, Monique Billings is unbelievable with running the floor, rebounding out of her area, just really a special athlete. Her best days are ahead of her but what’s gonna get her there is her work ethic. She plays incredibly hard, she’s really competitive. As we have time to work and develop her, we’ll work her into being a little more of a stretch forward, being able to step out of her range. When she steps out on the floor,she’s gonna compete. She’s definitely one of the most successful players in UCLA history so I’m really excited to add her. Kristy Wallace is someone that I’ve known since she was 16 and I was an assistant coach. When it came time to choose a school, she chose Baylor. She didn’t choose me but I followed her career. I think before she got injured, she was a late first round, early second round pick and I feel like with the depth of our roster, we could wait on her. I think it’s not gonna be easy for anyone to make our roster, a second rounder to make our roster. She’s someone that by drafting her, knowing she’s had an ACL injury and will be recovering all year; she just gives us an asset, someone who will compete for a spot in 2019, so I’m really excited about her. Mackenzie Engram, played at Georgia, from Cobb County, she’s someone who can really run the floor, plays really well for her size. She does a lot of things well and she’s very efficient, had an amazing senior year at Georgia and continues to climb in the SEC. Really good additions for us to look at!
Errica: With so many departures, arrivals and returns, how do you intend to really unite this team and make them one?
Coach Nicki: It starts with our culture, what we do in the locker room, the relationships that we start to build and create on and off the court. This team is really talented and we have the pieces to put together to play a lot of different ways with a lot of different lineups. The players really really can complement one another, so while it won’t be easy and it will take time to put our system in and really get them to understand what we’re looking for and what they should be looking for when they’re out on the court, there’s a genuine excitement for all of them to get into camp and see how they play together and do things differently. I’m just so excited to get all of them in camp and start fitting them together.
Shout out to the Atlanta Dream, we cannot wait to support you all full throttle this season! Congratulations to Monique Billings, Kristy Wallace and Mackenzie Engram and to all the other draft picks on your new professional careers!!