April 11, 2023
Seattle Storm get a WNBA Draft steal with Jordan Horston at No. 9
Madi Williams, Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, Jade Loville round out the Storm's picks
The Seattle Storm had an unexpectedly successful night at the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday. With the No. 9, 18, 21 and 33 picks, there were very low expectations for Seattle to select any franchise-changing players, but the Storm ended up with arguably the steal of the draft in Jordan Horston.
Horston, a 6’2 guard out of the University of Tennessee, sat waiting for her name to be called longer than anyone expected. Out of 18 mock drafts, the lowest she was predicted to be selected was No. 6. The Next‘s Em Adler and Hunter Cruse projected her to have the second-best future value of anyone in the draft. As a senior, she averaged 15.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per game and was an All-SEC First Team selection.
As the first round progressed, Horston remained available, seemingly much to Seattle’s surprise. The Storm didn’t even speak with Horston pre-draft.
“Seattle was probably one of the only places that I didn’t have a conversation with,” Horston told reporters on Monday. “I’ve talked with a lot of coaches on Zoom, and they were actually one of the ones that I didn’t. I’m so thankful that they saw potential in me.”
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Ironically, Horston’s career with Tennessee had ended in Seattle with a loss to Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16 just a few weeks before the draft. While she admitted that the only thing that she knew about Seattle prior to the NCAA Tournament was “Grey’s Anatomy,” Horston is excited to return to the Emerald City.
“They have a great fan base,” Horston said of Seattle. “They come from a rich history. [Retired point guard] Sue Bird, she held it down there. [All-Star guard] Jewell Loyd, she’s a dog. I’m just really excited. I’m just going to do whatever I need to do. I’m going to continue to be me, be a great teammate, be a sponge, be ready to work.”
Storm general manager Talisa Rhea and head coach Noelle Quinn were elated to see Horston fall to No. 9.
“Jordan is an amazing talent, very versatile wing player, can defend multiple positions, can score on multiple levels, just all around a great fit for us,” Quinn said. “To have an athlete like her to run the lanes or to initiate our offenses is very important, and she has that skillset.”
From her elite passing to lockdown defense to her ability to finish at the rim, Horston is an exceptional player. With a decimated roster going into the 2023 season, Horston’s many talents will add a little bit of everything that the Storm currently lack.
“Whatever the team needs, I’m going to do it,” Horston said. “I work hard. I’m a big guard so I can guard fours, bigger guards, smaller guards. … I’m really focusing on bringing that defensive impact.”
With the No. 18 pick, the Storm selected Madi Williams from the University of Oklahoma. The two-time unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection and Cheryl Miller Award Finalist was a vital piece of the Sooners’ NCAA Tournament run this season, leading her team in scoring, steals, blocks and field goal percentage. She leaves Oklahoma ranked in its top five all-time in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
Quinn raved about the physicality, toughness and work ethic that Williams brings. Her efficient scoring and strong defensive presence were also mentioned as exciting additions to Seattle’s roster.
The Storm then selected Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu with the No. 21 pick. The Nkongsamba, Cameroon, native finished her collegiate career at the University of South Florida after spending a year at a junior college and two years at Memphis. In her senior season with the Bulls, Fankam Mendjiadeu ranked fifth in the country in rebounds per game and led USF in field goal percentage. She averaged 16.5 points per game, second on her team and third in the conference.
Quinn described Fankam Mendjiadeu as a “solid screen-setter” and a pro at floor spacing. She will likely be used as a screener in pick-and-roll action with Horston. Her strong rebounding skills will be a helpful addition to a Storm team that severely struggled in that area last season.
The Storm’s last pick of the night was Sammamish, Washington, native and former Seattle-area high school basketball standout Jade Loville. After stints at Boise State and Arizona State, Loville finished her collegiate career at Arizona, where she led the Wildcats in total 3-pointers. The lefty “big guard” and former All-Pac-12 pick is consistent on both ends of the floor as a rebounder, scorer and defender.
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These four draftees will head to the Emerald City to join 12 other players, but only three returners from last season, in Seattle’s training camp.
Horston will join veteran center Mercedes Russell, who will make her comeback after sitting out most of the 2022 season, as the second Tennessee alum in Seattle. Russell, another strong screen-setter, will be exciting to watch alongside her fellow Lady Vol this season. Loyd and center Ezi Magbegor will headline the Storm roster, supported by free agency additions including Sami Whitcomb, Theresa Plaisance and Yvonne Turner. Once dubbed “UConn West” by fans due to the number of UConn alums on the roster, the Storm will only have one former Husky, new signing Kia Nurse, on the team for the first time in nearly 10 years.
Overall, Seattle took advantage of a great opportunity to draft one of the top prospects in the country. Williams, Fankam Mendjiadeu and Loville were underrated pick-ups who could also contribute at the next level.