Gardner Selected by Indiana Fever in the WNBA Draft
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas senior Chelsea Gardner, a two-time All-America Honorable Mention and All-Big 12 Conference First-Team selection, became the seventh Jayhawk chosen in the WNBA Draft, when the forward was selected as the 21st pick during the second round of the 2015 draft by the Indiana Fever.
Gardner, a native of DeSoto, Texas, was the first draft selection by the Fever during the 2015 WNBA Draft. Indiana went 16-18 last season and won the Eastern Conference Semifinal over Washington, but fell in the conference final to Chicago.
“I was nervous and anxious waiting to see my name on the screen, but it’s a great opportunity and it’s always been my dream of mine,” said Gardner of being drafted. “When I was younger, I dreamt of playing on the same level as Candace Parker one day. This is huge opportunity for me and my family. I am the first person in my family to play at the professional level, it’s really a dream come true. I still have to work hard and continue to get better in the gym.”
Opening her 2014-15 campaign with 24 points against South Dakota, Gardner surpassed the 1,000-career point milestone, becoming the 27th Jayhawk to join the 1,000-point scorers club. She finished her career with 1,516 points, which is 12th all-time in KU women’s basketball history.
“Obviously, coach Bonnie gave me the opportunity to play in college and the entire coaching staff has helped me,” Gardner said. “All the coaches I have had in my career have helped me, including my first coach, Archie Cohen. I am very thankful for all of my coaches.”
Gardner was instrumental in Kansas’ 65-59 win over West Virginia (1/24), recording 20 points and 20 rebounds. It was the first time a KU women’s basketball player reached the 20-point, 20-rebound plateau in over 33 years.
The 6-3 senior recorded double-digit scoring efforts in 28 of KU’s 32 games in 2014-15, including 16 of the final 17 games of her collegiate career. The forward scored 20 or more points on 11 occasions, including a 30-point performance, the third 30+ scoring effort of her career, against Alabama (11/21).
The forward shot 52.3 percent from the field, fifth-best in the Big 12 and 28th in the country. It also marked the 10th-best career field goal percentage in Kansas women’s basketball history. Gardner shot 60 percent or better in 11 games and above 70 percent in two contests, including a season-best .769 against TCU (1/14).
“This is a wonderful honor tonight for Chelsea and her family,” said interim head coach and Gardner’s position coach Katie O’Connor. “She has made significant contributions to this program and we are extremely proud of her as she takes the next step in her basketball career. Chelsea is a versatile player that had great success playing in a very tough league. I think her overall skill set especially her ability to score from the perimeter separates her from other players.”
Gardner became the first Jayhawk selected in the WNBA Draft since the Tulsa Shock selected Angel Goodrich with the 29th pick of the 2013 draft. Other Kansas players drafted into the WNBA include Tamecka Dixon (Los Angeles Sparks, 14th, 1997), Lynn Pride (Portland Fire, seventh, 2000), Charisse Sampson (Seattle Storm, 25th, 2000), Jaclyn Johnson (Orlando Miracle, 2001), Danielle McCray (Connecticut Sun, 2010).
Lynette Woodard (Cleveland Rockers, Detroit Shock), Angela Aycock (Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx, Houston Comets) and Nakia Sanford (Washington Mystics, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm) have suited up in the WNBA despite not being drafted. Currently, Goodrich and McCray are the only Jayhawks active on WNBA rosters.
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