West Virginia women’s basketball star Bria Holmes did not have to wait long for WNBA President Lisa Borders to announce her name, as the Atlanta Dream drafted Holmes with the 11th overall pick in Wednesday’s draft in Uncasville, Connecticut.
"It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the WNBA," Holmes said via teleconference call. "I wasn’t expecting to go in the first round, but my dream came true, and I couldn’t be any happier. It’s just a blessing."
It was a historic night for Holmes, as her selection marked the earliest that a Mountaineer has ever been drafted, beating Asya Bussie, who was selected 15th overall in the 2014 draft. In doing so, she is the first Connecticut high school player to be taken in the first round.
For Atlanta head coach Michael Cooper, Holmes was one of the top targets for the organization that is trying to establish a strong supporting cast behind veteran Angel McCoughtry.
"We’ve been crossing our fingers all season long that Bria would be there," Cooper said. "She fell right into our lap. We have a list of the top seniors, and (Holmes) was right up there, so we had her in our scopes for a while, and we’re finally able to get her."
Holmes goes to an Atlanta team that missed the postseason for the first time after seven appearances last season.
However, the Dream is an organization that has a defense-first mindset that is similar to what Holmes is used to in Morgantown.
While the Dream finished the season allowing a league-worst 79.8 points-per-game, Cooper wasted no time introducing his defensive mindset to the newest member of his team.
The Dream’s Ariel Massengale, who just finished her rookie year in Atlanta, was the first player to call Holmes. From there, it was Cooper who quickly introduced himself to Holmes with one simple question: "Are you ready to play defense?" Holmes replied, "Of course I’m ready."
In her career at WVU, Holmes finished with 2,001 points and became the first Mountaineer to record 500 or more points in three consecutive seasons. If one were to look at every statistical category in West Virginia women’s basketball, one would find Holmes sitting amidst the top 10 in 14 of those areas.
Holmes feels that having such a successful collegiate career under WVU head coach Mike Carey is what will help her easily adjust to the professional style.
"(Atlanta’s) style of play almost fits West Virginia’s style. I think they put defense first and that’s how it was here (at WVU)," Holmes said. "I feel like I got better at defense over the last few years, so I’m just going to take that over to the Atlanta Dream."
The future is extremely bright for Holmes, who consistently found herself one of the most elite players in the Big 12 Conference. Now she moves onto the biggest league in women’s basketball, keeping her dream alive.
"We filled our needs tonight, and I think Bria will have an excellent career here and a great opportunity," Cooper said.