The Indiana Fever selected Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith No. 2 overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft on Monday night.
Smith, who helped the Bears to the second round of the NCAA Tournament this season, passed up her COVID-19 year of eligibility to move on to the professional ranks. She was one of a dozen WNBA prospects who attended the draft in-person. It was the WNBA’s first in-person draft since 2019.
She had been highly touted in WNBA circles as, potentially, the No. 1 overall selection. But the Atlanta Dream took Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard with the first pick.
Smith continues the program’s great recent history in the WNBA Draft. Last April DiDi Richards and DiJonai Carrington were selected in the second round. In 2020, the Bears had a program first — three players selected in the same WNBA Draft. Lauren Cox went third overall to Indiana, Te’a Cooper went 18th overall to Phoenix and Juicy Landrum went 35th overall to the Connecticut Sun.
Brittany Griner is the program’s only No. 1 overall pick, which happened in 2013.
Smith is coming off another incredible season for the Bears, which was her fourth with the program. She led the Bears to a 12th straight Big 12 regular season crown and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Individually, she became the seventh Baylor player to reach 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for her career.
She won the Katrina McClain Award for the second straight season, given to the nation’s top power forward. She was a consensus All-American. She was also the Big 12 Player of the Year for the second straight season after averaging 22.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.2 blocked shots per game. She also set a single-season Baylor record with 25 double-doubles.
Smith also won a national championship in 2019 as a freshman with the Bears.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.