BRISTOL, Conn. (UT Sports) -- Former University of Tennessee women's basketball players Shekinna Stricklen, Glory Johnson and Kelley Cain were all taken in the first round and Vicki Baugh was selected in the third round of the 2012 WNBA Draft presented by Boost Mobile, on Monday, April 16 at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
It was the best first round showing ever in the draft for Tennessee with three players taken. The Lady Vols had two first round selections in 1997, 1999, 2003 and 2008. In total 15, UT players have been first round WNBA picks on draft day.
The first Lady Vol selected was the 6'2" multi-position Stricklen to the Seattle Storm with the second pick overall. Two selections later, Tennessee teammate Johnson heard her name called by the Tulsa Shock, as the fourth overall pick in the draft.
A surprise selection in the first round was Cain who was picked as the seventh player overall by the New York Liberty. Cain, a 2011 UT grad, has been playing in Turkey since January 2012 with Gure Belediyesi of the Turkish League.
Baugh, one of the 15 players invited to the draft, made her way to the stage as the 25th player taken overall and the first pick of the third round by Tulsa where she will join Johnson.
The Lady Vol head coach Pat Summitt was ecstatic about three Lady Vols going in the first round and four overall. "What a great day in the lives of these young ladies! I couldn't be prouder as a coach," said Summitt. "It's every player's dream to go to the next level and play in the WNBA...today they have realized this dream."
Stricklen, a 6'2" guard/forward/center who earned WBCA All-America and SEC Player of the Year acclaim as a junior, spent time playing all five positions as a Lady Vol and finished her career seventh all-time in points with 1,882 and 11th in rebounds with 905.
"I am so proud of her," said Summitt. "Obviously, Seattle saw something in her just like we did when we recruited Shekinna to come to Tennessee.
"She has come such a long way and developed into such a great player. Maybe that's why I stayed on her and was a little harder...she had such potential to be an outstanding player. You can see it has all paid off today as the second pick overall. Seattle has a player capable of playing all five spots on the floor now."
Stricklen had a large group from Morrilton, Ark., attend the draft with her and said she was surprised at her high pick. "I am a little surprised but I am looking forward to playing in the WNBA.
"There are a lot of veterans in Seattle - Sue Bird, Tina Thompson and Lauren Jackson - who can really help me get better in my game. I still need a lot of improvement. With my personality, that I'm willing to learn, to listen real well and pay attention, I'm really looking forward to that and I'm really looking forward to playing with them."
Johnson, a 6'3" post player, who starred for the Lady Vols in her hometown of Knoxville earned WBCA All-America honors and was named the 2012 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. She finished her career as Tennessee's second all-time leading rebounder (1,218) behind only Chamique Holdsclaw.
"Who would have ever thought four years ago that a Knoxville, Tenn., girl would have been the fourth pick overall in the WNBA draft?" Summitt said. "What a tremendous day for Glory Johnson.
"I am so proud of her and the player she relentlessly worked to become as a Lady Vol. Glory has such toughness and grit; she is going to make an immediate impact and be a difference-maker for Tulsa. We are all just so excited for her."
Johnson was surrounded by family when her named was called. "I know there's going to be a huge difference between college and the WNBA. I think my coaches at the University of Tennessee prepared me for it," Johnson said.
"I had great coaches. Playing on the team with a bunch of All-Americans also prepared me. I'm completely excited for a change of worlds almost. I'm excited about the competition and can't wait to get out there."
The 6'6" Cain might have been the surprise of the draft. Throughout her time at UT, Cain was hampered by nagging injuries to her hip, back and knees, limiting her to just 19.9 mpg for her career. As a Lady Vol, Cain averaged 8.6 ppg and 6.2 rpg and shot 60.6 percent from the field, while making 59 starts. Her career field goal percentage is the third-best in Tennessee history.
"How about Kelley Cain? What a great surprise for her and so excited and proud for her," said Summitt. "You know, Kelley's size can definitely make and impact and if she stays healthy she is a force. Our whole staff was excited to hear her name called."
Via her Twitter page Cain said, "Thanks everybody for the love! I'm truly blessed and grateful for this opportunity. When one door closes another one opens! I'm ready!!!
Baugh, a 6'4" center, led Tennessee in field goal percentage this past season and heart throughout her career after suffering back-to-back ACL injuries in 2008 and 2009.
"Vicki has worked so hard to get to this point in her career. I'm sure there were days that she discounted that she would even be in the draft," said Summitt.
"She has overcome so much. Vicki is a coach on the floor - she knows the game so well -- and I think she will bring those attributes to Tulsa."
Baugh was joined at the draft by her proud grandparents, Calvin and Barbara Baugh. "This is a great accomplishment. There was once upon a time when I didn't know if I was even going to be able to continue playing basketball anymore, so just being here and having this opportunity is truly a blessing. I'm just - I'm very happy," said Vicki Baugh.
With the addition of Baugh, Cain, Johnson and Stricklen, a total of 34 Lady Vol players have continued their careers at the professional level in the WNBA.
Information provided by UT Sports Information and UTLadyVols.com.
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