By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor, Video by Joe Pratt | Broadcast Reporter
It was a great night for Baylor women’s basketball. For the second time in program history, Baylor had three players selected in the WNBA draft, as NaLyssa Smith, Queen Egbo and Jordan Lewis each heard their name called during the 2022 WNBA draft in New York City.
First off the board was Smith, who was selected second overall by the Indiana Fever, becoming the 10th first-round pick and the third top-two pick in program history alongside Brittney Griner (first in 2013 to the Phoenix Mercury) and Odyssey Sims (second in 2014 to the Tulsa Shock). While Smith wasn’t exactly thrilled about not being the No. 1 pick — the Atlanta Dream gave that honor to Rhyne Howard — she’s ready to show Indiana what she’s all about.
“I’m coming in hungry,” Smith said. “I can’t wait to come to this program and make a big difference. We’re still slept on, let’s get it.”
Smith has already set some goals for herself. Despite being a dominant four in college, she wants to be able to expand her game to play the three position at the next level.
“I want to extend my game to the three,” Smith Said. “Maybe get more consistent at the three and defend better.”
No matter what position she ends up playing or where she was selected, senior forward Caitlin Bickle has no doubt in her mind that Smith will prove herself to be the best player in this draft class.
“Her mindset and also, over the years — obviously she has great post moves and things like that — but I think last year and this year, her versatility is insane,” Bickle said. “She shot the three a little bit more this year, but I think going into the league, you’re going to see that more. She’s not going to stop working on that. She has a great pull up game, she can post, she’s a quick four. Her versatility compared to a lot of other players going into the draft is very different.”
However, Smith won’t be traveling to Indiana alone as with the No. 10 pick in the draft, the Fever selected Egbo to pair with their other top-10 selections in Smith, Louisville’s Emily Engstler and Stanford’s Lexie Hull.
Smith and Egbo became the first duo to both be selected top-10 in program history and the first pair in 20 years to be picked in the first round since Sheila Lambert (7th by the Charlotte Sting) and Danielle Crockrom (11th by the Utah Starzz) did so in 2002.
Lewis was taken by the Connecticut Sun in the second round with the 24th overall pick, becoming the fourth-straight graduate transfer to come to Baylor and get drafted, following in the footsteps of DiJonai Carrington who the Sun selected in the second round of last year’s draft.
Back in Waco, the women’s basketball team held a watch party to view their former teammates together and they couldn’t be prouder.
“I think it’s really exciting,” Bickle said. “I think the hard work is paying off for them. Especially being with Queen and [Na]Lyss[a] for the past four years, it’s amazing to finally get to see them reach their goals and get to move on and move forward. And even just knowing Jordan for a year has been amazing because I know they all work really, really hard, and I think they’re going to be great in the league.”