NEW YORK, NY – April 12, 2018 – The New York Liberty selected University of Connecticut guard Kia Nurse (10th overall) in the 1st round of the 2018 WNBA Draft on Thursday night. New York also picked Tennessee center Mercedes Russell (22nd overall) in the 2nd Round and Princeton guard Leslie Robinson (34th overall) in the 3rd Round.
“With the preparation that we did, the draft played out the way we expected and we are really pleased with our selections,” said New York Liberty Head Coach Katie Smith. “In Kia Nurse we got a very solid, big guard who can score and comes from a great program. I think we got lucky with a 6-6 center in Mercedes Russell who is skilled and eager to prove herself, in addition to Leslie Robinson, a really talented local player coming in from Princeton.
“I think with our training camp signees, draft picks, and some of our players back from overseas already it is going to be a very intense training camp,” Smith added. “Overall I think we are going to compete and get better and that will be our goal until our first game.”
Nurse, a 6-0 guard, was a four-year starter at Connecticut, helping lead the Huskies to four-straight Final Fours, winning a pair of National Championships in 2015 and 2016. During her senior season, Nurse averaged 13.5 ppg and shot 44.3 percent from 3-point range, earning Honorable Mention All-America honors and All-American Athletic Conference accolades for a 3rd-straight season.
Over her collegiate career, Nurse averaged 11.4 ppg, racking up 442 assists and 185 steals, connecting at a 42.4 percent clip from the outside while making 262 triples, an average of 65.5 per season. A native of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Nurse is a member of the Canadian National Team and competed in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.
Nurse joins Tina Charles, Bria Hartley, Kiah Stokes, and Kelly Faris as University of Connecticut products currently with the Liberty; she was college teammates with Stokes for the 2014-15 season which ended with a national title.
Russell was an All-American center at Tennessee, nearly averaging a double-double during her senior season at 15.3 ppg and 9.2 rpg while shooting 58.3 percent from the field. Over her four-year career, Russell averaged 11.7 ppg and 8.0 rpg, becoming just the 5th player in program history to eclipse 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds.
She was 1st Team All-SEC in 2017-18, when she was also a finalist for the Lisa Leslie Award, recognizing the top center in the country. Russell was an Honorable Mention AP and WBCA All-American as a junior.
Robinson was a 1st Team All-Ivy League selection as a senior when she averaged 10.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 4.4 apg while shooting 45.6 percent from the floor. Her 4.4 apg ranked 97th in the NCAA last season and her 120 total assists were the 6th-best single-season effort in Princeton history.
Robinson helped lead the Tigers to an NCAA Tournament berth this season, and was a member of the inaugural Ivy league All-Tournament Team in 2016-17 after averaging 10.4 ppg and 7.4 rpg, leading to 2nd Team All-Ivy accolades.
Single-game tickets for its 2018 New York Liberty season are now on sale. Tickets, starting at $18, can be purchased at the Westchester County Center Box Office, at NYLiberty.com, all Ticketmaster outlets and Ticketmaster.com/NYLiberty.
The Liberty’s 2018 home opener at Westchester County Center will come against the defending WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx on Friday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. The season officially tips off on Sunday, May 20, as New York faces the Chicago Sky at Wintrust Arena at 7 p.m. (ET).