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20 Pac-12 women's basketball alumnae on 2023 WNBA opening-day rosters

May 19, 2023
Haley Jones | Photo courtesy Atlanta Dream

SAN FRANCISCO - The Pac-12 will have 20 former women's basketball student-athletes on WNBA opening-day rosters entering the 2023 season, which tips off on Friday. The Conference is represented by seven of its 12 members and on nine of 12 WNBA franchises.

In comparing conference totals based on per-membership averages, the Pac-12 leads all leagues with 1.67 per school on opening-day rosters (20 players/12 schools), ahead of the Big Ten (1.64 = 23 players/14 schools), Big East (1.55 = 17 players/11 schools), ACC (1.53 = 23 players/15 schools) and SEC (1.50 = 21 players/14 schools). 

In addition to the former standouts on team rosters, the Pac-12 is one of two leagues with multiple alumnae as WNBA head coaches (Big Ten). UCLA's Noelle Quinn is in her third season leading the Seattle Storm and Stanford's Vanessa Nygaard is in her second season with the Phoenix Mercury.

Arizona State's Briann January retired following a 14-year career after the 2022 season and is in her first year as an assistant coach with the Connecticut Sun. UCLA's Natalie Nakase is in her second season as an assistant with the Las Vegas Aces, where fellow Bruin Natalie Williams is the general manager. Washington's Karen Bryant is the chief administrative officer and general manager of the Los Angeles Sparks. UCLA's Nikki Blue is an assistant for Nygaard in Phoenix, while USC's Ebony Hoffman is an assistant in Seattle alongside Quinn, who also has Stanford's Susan Borchardt as the team's sports performance consultant and Oregon State's Talisa Rhea as the general manager. Washington State's Shelley Patterson is an assistant with the Washington Mystics.

Led by Stanford's Haley Jones, who was taken with the sixth overall pick by the Atlanta Dream, five Pac-12 women's basketball standouts were selected in the 2023 WNBA Draft, the fourth time in the past five years the Conference has had five student-athletes selected. It was the 13th consecutive WNBA Draft to feature at least three selections from the Pac-12. The Conference has had multiple players taken in every College Draft dating back to 1997.

The WNBA season kicks off with four games tonight beginning with Indiana hosting Connecticut and Washington hosting New York at 4 p.m. PT, followed by Chicago at Minnesota at 5 p.m. PT, and Phoenix at Los Angeles at 8 p.m. PT.

  Conference Student-Athletes Average per membership
1. Pac-12 20 1.67
2. Big Ten 23 1.64
3. Big East 17 1.55
4. ACC 23 1.53
5. SEC 21 1.50
6. Big 12 12 1.20
  Team Student-Athletes
1. Stanford 6
T2. Oregon 4
T2. UCLA 4
T4. California 2
T4.  Washington 2
T6. Arizona 1
T6. USC 1
Team Former Student-Athletes
Atlanta Dream (3) Monique Billings - UCLA
Haley Jones - Stanford
Aari McDonald - Arizona
Chicago Sky (4) Kristine Anigwe - California
Rebekah Gardner - UCLA
Ruthy Hebard - Oregon
Alanna Smith - Stanford
Dallas Wings (1) Satou Sabally - Oregon
Indiana Fever (1) Lexie Hull - Stanford
Las Vegas Aces (1) Kelsey Plum - Washington
Los Angeles Sparks (5) Jordin Canada - UCLA
Layshia Clarendon - California
Chiney Ogwumike - Stanford
Nneka Ogwumike - Stanford
Karlie Samuelson - Stanford
New York Liberty (2) Sabrina Ionescu - Oregon
Nyara Sabally - Oregon
Phoenix Mercury (2) Michaela Onyenwere - UCLA
Kadi Sissoko - USC
Seattle Storm (1) Sami Whitcomb - Washington