WNBA draft: Lynx add winner with team-first attitude

Devereaux Peters reached the NCAA title game the past two seasons with Notre Dame.

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Notre Dame's Devereaux Peters, left, with WNBA President Laurel J. Richie.

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Notre Dame's Devereaux Peters is on a championship team at last. The Lynx took the 6-2 forward with the No. 3 overall pick in the WNBA draft on Monday.

One of the attributes the reigning WNBA champions liked about Peters was that she comes from a winning program. The Fighting Irish were 35-4 this past season and, for the second year in a row, reached the NCAA title game before losing.

"I am extremely excited I got picked by Minnesota," Peters said on a teleconference call from Bristol, Conn., the draft site. "I can't wait to go out there and start training camp [on April 29] and hopefully make the team and do whatever I can to contribute to the already amazing squad they have over there."

Peters, a fifth-year senior, said she was shocked how high she was drafted and by whom; Lynx officials had not talked to her.

They had watched her closely, though, for two years. Peters, a medical redshirt as a sophomore at Notre Dame, could have turned pro after last season.

"From a skills-set standpoint," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said, "she fit every category that we were looking at. We needed someone that was going to defend and rebound first and foremost and be a selfless player."

Peters' team-first approach probably put her at the top of the Lynx's draft board at No. 3, Reeve said. Los Angeles took Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike with the first pick, and Seattle took Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen with the second.

Peters was the Irish's third-leading scorer this season, averaging a career-high 11.8 points, and co-MVP.

"She has been in big games, she has been a part of making big plays," Reeve said.

Asked which Lynx players she was most excited to play with, Peters mentioned two she admired.

"Playing with Maya Moore would be amazing, being that I played against her so much in college," Peters said, referring to the Notre Dame vs. Connecticut rivalry in the Big East Conference. "So it would be nice to be on the [same] side, and really experience what she brings, being that I saw it so much as an opponent.

"And also Seimone Augustus. I really like her game. I grew up loving her in high school. It will be nice to be on the same court with her."

That is what the Lynx hope to see, too; Peters backing up Taj McWilliams-Franklin, 41, at center, or Rebekkah Brunson at power forward.

Peters is the one draft pick out of six selected on Monday that the Lynx expect to make the 2012 roster. Three of the other five won't even be in camp. Two are 19-year-old international players and the other is Jacki Gemelos, a Southern Cal point guard recovering from her second ACL surgery on her left knee.

With their second pick in the first round, No. 12 overall, the Lynx drafted center Damiris Dantas of Brazil. She was the MVP of the under-19 world championships last year. Their third pick in the second round was point guard Nika Baric of Slovenia.

It could be several years before either Dantas or Baric joins the Lynx, executive vice president Roger Griffith said.

In camp, besides Peters, will be the two players the Lynx took just ahead of Baric in the second round at Nos. 18 and 19: guard/forward Julie Wojta of Wisconsin-Green Bay and forward Kayla Standish of Gonzaga.

Griffith said he rejected trade offers for those picks.

"Those kids were worth a look in our training camp," Griffith said. "They can push some players. We have seen it before. You think you are set, but then you come in and find out someone is better."

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