Years ago, when University of Texas center and Barbers Hill product Charli Collier first picked up a basketball as a kid, her late father Elliott Collier predicted that his daughter would one day be the No.1 pick in the WNBA draft.
Together they made it a goal just prior to his passing away April 4, 2016.
Their plan fell into place Thursday night when Collier was picked No.1 overall in the WNBA Draft by the Dallas Wings. She became the first Longhorns player to be drafted first in WNBA history but more importantly, it was a goal fulfilled.
“Even this moment right here, we sat in the hospital bed and we wrote down goals and this is one of them,” Collier said to ESPN moments after being drafted. “And I’m sitting here like he is here with me. Everything that I do, he is here in this moment with me. Hard work pays off and my dad is so proud of me. I wish he could see me in real life, this feels so good.”
Collier a 6-foot-5 post, left school after her junior season to pursue her dream of playing in the WNBA. The moment she declared last month, she was heavily predicted to the No.1 overall pick. But with the Dallas Wings holding both the No.1 and No.2 picks, there was a chance Collier could have slipped to No.2.
But the Wings used the first pick on Collier and then took 6-foot-5 post Awak Kuier with the No.2 selection and then with the fifth overall pick they took Arkansas guard Chelsea Dungee.
When Collier’s name was called she could be seen onscreen pointing toward the sky while surrounded by family and friends.
“It was to God because my God is so good,” said Collier, who averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds while leading the Longhorns to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament this season. “Every day I wake up with this passion because I love basketball so much.
“My heart is racing right now because I’ve worked so hard for this moment. There are a lot of people who have a lot to say about me but never question my work ethic. Hate me or love me, you still have to respect me either way. This is the game that I love, I deserve to be here and I’m built for it.”
Baylor’s Didi Richards, a product of Cy Ranch in Cypress, was another played drafted Thursday night with local ties. She went fifth in the second round to the New York Liberty.
Texas A&M also had two players drafted with guard Aaliyah Wilson 11th overall in the first round and then center Ciera Johnson was taken in the eighth pick of the third round by Phoenix.
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris