JMU’s Lauren Okafor taken by Atlanta Dream in third round of WNBA Draft

okafor_lauren_14_15With the 34th overall pick, the Atlanta Dream drafted James Madison redshirt-senior center Lauren Okafor in the third round of the 2015 WNBA Draft with the team’s second pick.

Okafor became the second player in JMU women’s basketball history to be drafted. In 2008, Tamera Young (JMU ’08) was also selected by the Dream, going eighth overall.

During her senior campaign, Okafor averaged 12.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, tallying 13 double-doubles to lead the Dukes (29-4) to the 2015 Colonial Athletic Association championship and a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. She was named to the 2015 All-CAA First Team, CAA All-Defensive Team, CAA All-Tournament Team and Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) All-State First Team. She was also honored as the 2015 Dean Ehlers Leadership Award recipient and CAA women’s basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“This is amazing, I’m very happy and very proud of Lady,” Head Coach Kenny Brooks beamed. “I think she’s very deserving. Obviously it’s the ultimate league for basketball, and I think she fits right in with her size and strength with as much as she’s improved this year. I think Atlanta is a really good fit, and Michael Cooper is a great coach. I think he’ll push her to levels she can continue to grow towards. I think this is a great testament to our program and I’m extremely happy for her.”

The Atlanta Dream finished first in the Eastern Conference in 2014 with a 19-15 regular-season record. The Dream fell in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Chicago Sky, Young’s current team.

Okafor is the third player in the last five seasons to have an opportunity to play at the WNBA level. Dawn Evans (’11) signed a contract with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2011 while Kirby Burkholder (’14) signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Mystics in 2014.

         
 

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