Saniya Chong’s college career ended in Dallas. The UConn women’s basketball team’s senior will get the chance to start her professional career in the same city.
Chong was taken by the Dallas Wings with the second choice (No. 26 overall) in the third and final round of Thursday’s WNBA Draft held in New York City. The 5-foot-8 guard from Ossining, New York, was one of five players selected by the Wings, who had three first-round picks.
“I am truly blessed to be able to get this opportunity,” Chong said in a statement released by UConn. “I am grateful and excited to start my new journey. Thank you to everyone out there that supported me.”
In 35 games (she missed two games in December after suffering a concussion at Notre Dame) with 34 starts, Chong averaged career highs of 8.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.4 steals in 31.0 minutes. She set a school single-season record in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.33, which led the American Athletic Conference and was fourth nationally. She also ranked fifth in the AAC in assists and fourth in 3-point shooting (40.0 percent).
She matched her career high with 20 points against South Florida on Jan. 10. She was named to the all-AAC third team and was selected to the NCAA Bridgeport Regional all-tournament team after averaging 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in wins over UCLA and Oregon.
UConn (36-1) reached the Final Four for a record 10th straight season but saw its four-year reign as national champion and its record 111-game winning streak end with a 66-64 overtime loss to Mississippi State in the national semifinals at Dallas’ American Airlines Center.
“She is steady. There can generally be room for a player who can make shots consistently and who doesn’t turn the ball over,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said of Chong at the Final Four. “You know what you’re getting and you know what you’re not getting (with a UConn player). You’re not getting any issues. You’re going to get a team kid.”
In 145 career games, Chong finished with 808 points, 288 rebounds, 308 assists (28th all-time at UConn), and 119 steals.
In her four years at UConn, the Huskies went 152-2 with four Final Four bids, three national championships, and four AAC regular season and tournament titles. The 152 wins for her and classmate Tierney Lawlor is a NCAA record for a four-year span as is their winning percentage (.987). Chong and Lawlor are also the first UConn class to go unbeaten in league play in their four seasons.
Chong, a sociology major at UConn, will receive her bachelor’s degree next month.
The Wings owned three of the top 10 picks and selected Kentucky post player Evelyn Akhator at No. 3, South Carolina forward Allisha Gray at No. 4, and South Carolina wing Kaela Davis at No. 10.
Gray and Davis each gave up their final year of college eligibility, entering the draft with their original class, after the Gamecocks won their first national championship. Their second-round pick (No. 23 overall) was Kansas State center Breanna Lewis.
“I think it’s a well-balanced draft for us,” Dallas coach Fred Williams said on the team website. “We were able to get players in the front line and in the post area and in our perimeter game. I’m excited about our upcoming training camp, it should be very competitive.”
Dallas, which missed the playoffs with an 11-23 record in 2016, has veteran guards Skylar Diggins, Erin Phillips, Karima Christmas, and Tiffany Bias on its preseason roster.