April 11, 2011
TUCSON - Senior Ify Ibekwe, a forward for the University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball team, was the 24th pick in the second round of the Women's National Basketball Association Draft (WNBA) draft by the Seattle Storm, it was announced during draft festivities on Monday.
"I'm so happy with how the draft went today," Ibekwe said. "Seattle is a great team and a proven winner. I want to contribute any way I can and I know I'll learn a lot from my teammates. My dream has always been to play in the WNBA and I'm so happy it's coming true."
The Seattle Storm won the 2010 WNBA Championship with a 28-6 record. They are coached by Brian Agler and Ibekwe's future teammates include former Connecticut standouts Sue Bird and Swin Cash and Australian National Team member Lauren Jackson.
"I think Seattle is a great fit for Ify," head coach Niya Butts said. "They have a great coach in Brian Agler and some tremendous players Ify can learn from. This is a great place for her to develop her game and get better. The future is bright for Ify and I hope to see her great play continue."
Ibekwe is the sixth Wildcat player to be selected in the WNBA Draft and is Arizona's highest all-time pick at No. 24. Adia Barnes, in the fourth round, was the 32nd pick by the Sacramento Monarchs in the 1998 draft. Marte Alexander, in the third round, was the 47th pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2000 draft. Reshea Bristol, in the fourth round, was the 50th pick by the Charlotte Sting in the 2001 draft. LaKeisha Taylor at No. 49 and Elizabeth Pickney at No. 60 were selected in the 2002 draft. Most recently, Dee-Dee Wheeler was a second round, 26th pick by the Los Angeles Sparks during the 2005 draft.
Ibekwe was one of just three Pac-10 players selected this season with Stanford's Kayla Pedersen going to the Tulsa Shock as the No. 7 pick and fellow Cardinal Jeanette Pohlen going to the Indiana Fever as the No. 9 pick.
Ibekwe, recently the winner of the University of Arizona Ruby Award, paced women's basketball to a 21-12 record, the best since the 2003-04 season, and the first postseason appearance since the 2004-05 season. Ibekwe led the Cats in scoring with 16.1 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game. She had 14 double-doubles, 25 games in double-digit scoring and 15 games in double-digit rebounding. She was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, All-Pac-10 and a member of the Pac-10 All-Defensive Team. Ibekwe ends her career as the only player in Arizona history to record 1,000+ points and 1,000+ rebounds and the only player to average a career double-double (14.3 points, 10.3 rebounds).
Senior forward Soana Lucet will enter free agency and will look to be picked up as an undrafted free agent. She will attend camps, workouts and tryouts between now and the start of the WNBA season. Lucet averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 2010-11. She ends her career at No. 10 on the career all-time scoring average list with 12.9 points per game. She also set the Arizona all-time record for points in a postseason game with her career-best 35 against Utah State in the opening round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.