“It’s Pretty Surreal" -- Lynx Draft Picks Ready to Take on WNBA in 2020

(image credit: screenshot from American Athletic Conference on YouTube)

The Minnesota Lynx made one of the first surprising moves of the 2020 WNBA Draft last Friday night when they deviated from what most people thought they would do in selecting a point guard by drafting a power forward with the sixth overall pick.

In the draft, which was the most-watched WNBA Draft in 16 years and the second-most-watched draft in ESPN’s history, Minnesota drafted South Carolina forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan at No. 6 and Connecticut point guard Crystal Dangerfield at No. 16, later trading for Rice guard Erica Ogwumike after the draft concluded.

RELATED: Lynx Pick Herbert Harrigan and Dangerfield, Trade for Ogwumike in 2020 WNBA Draft

Although that first pick might have shocked some people tuning into the draft, Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve and her coaching staff had a plan in place that worked out just as they had hoped on draft night.

Reeve said after the draft they felt they needed both a post player and a guard leading into the 2020 season. By picking a forward in the opening round, that allowed them the possibility to still address that guard position with their second selection and get the balance they were aiming for.

“We had a scenario planned for exactly how it went. It was going to be a tough decision about a couple of players. We felt like we could use some depth (at power forward). We liked the players and we had a couple to choose from,” Reeve said. “It was difficult landing on just one, but we think Herbert Harrigan has some things about her game that will be really helpful for our roster. We mocked and we thought that at an outside chance at No. 16, there might be someone like Dangerfield.

“It probably went as smoothly as it could have.”

With the draft now over and Minnesota awaiting the start of the upcoming season – whenever that actually takes place – the Lynx will be bringing in three attractive pieces to try and add to the rotation this year.

As for the draft picks, they feel they are ready for the challenge to grab their spots on the 12-player roster in Minnesota.

Mikiah Herbert Harrigan

With a few point guards and other attractive prospects still on the board at No. 6, the Lynx surprised a lot of people with the selection of Herbert Harrigan in the middle of the first round.

Even Herbert Harrigan was caught off guard to some extent, although she knew she was going to be selected somewhere in the opening round of the draft.

“I wasn’t surprised, but I wasn’t expecting my name to be called that early. I was expecting later on in the first round, but I’m happy it happened and I’m excited to be a part of the Lynx organization,” said Herbert Harrigan, who will graduate in May from South Carolina with a degree in criminal justice. “It just shows all the hard work and dedication you put in since you were a child. To see your dreams come true, it’s pretty surreal.”

Although the move to select the talented forward with the sixth pick might have seemed like a reach to some, Reeve and her coaching staff felt they needed to add to the team’s post depth and viewed Herbert Harrigan as a player who has great potential.

“We knew that would be a surprising pick for some people and it was probably a little bit higher than what she was slated, but when you looked at the depth chart of the draft and where we felt like we needed to go, we knew Kiki was probably going to be somebody we were seriously considering,” Reeve said. “When you look at our depth chart, we need help in the post. After Bella Alarie (who went No. 5 to Dallas Wings), we had Kiki Herbert Harrigan.

“We thought she had some upside. There were some players in the draft that were in consideration and we thought they might be near their ceiling. We think that she is someone that has a pretty decent ceiling.”

The first thing that pops out in Herbert Harrigan’s game is the versatility she can provide and the competitive nature she contains on the court. Those are two traits that perfectly fit the mold of what Reeve looks for in her players.

Along with her energy, Herbert Harrigan can stretch the floor with her three-point shooting – something she worked on extensively in the offseason leading up to her senior year in college – as well as operate in the post and provide Minnesota with depth behind Sylvia Fowles and company.

“I grew up watching Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore, so it’s crazy that I actually got drafted on the same team they are on,” she said. “I feel like I’m definitely ready to play in the WNBA. I think I fit in really well with my versatility and I’m a great addition to the team.”

Crystal Dangerfield

One player who was mentioned as a possibility for the Lynx to draft at No. 6 in the draft among multiple mock drafts was Dangerfield.

The talented point guard didn’t ultimately hear her name called in the first round, but Minnesota waited and was able to still land her with the fourth selection of the second round.

“We happen to really like Crystal Dangerfield. I can’t tell you that we thought she would be there at No. 16,” Reeve said. “We thought she would have been gone.”

Dangerfield, who will earn her degree in communications from Connecticut in May, is a speedy guard who can do a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor. She has the ability to shoot from three as well as set up her teammates while leading an offense, a few traits that could result in her getting a decent amount of playing time at point guard right out of the gate in her rookie season with the Lynx.

“I like the way she competes, I like the way she defends and she can shoot the three. It’s not going to be oversaid just how much we enjoy players who come out of UConn. They are plug-and-play players,” Reeve said. “Crystal knows what we want and there are things that we do that are similar. One advantage that she will have is that she is the only true point guard on the roster. I think she will have an advantage there.”

One of the things Dangerfield found attractive about the idea of going to the Lynx was the similarities in the coaching staffs she had at Connecticut and what she is getting in Minnesota. Both Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma and Minnesota’s Reeve hold their players to a high standard while having a strong tradition of winning.

There are many similarities Dangerfield finds between her college team and her new WNBA squad, which makes her feel comfortable and confident in competing for a spot on the roster in 2020.

“I’m going to go in like a sponge. I am going to pick up what I can and slowly insert myself. I do want a significant role and it’s not going to come easy,” Dangerfield said. “I felt like with playing time, this was the best fit in going in there and giving them an extra point guard.

“I’m really looking forward to is going there to training camp whenever that may be, earning my keep and earning some minutes.”

Erica Ogwumike

A name thrown around by Reeve and her coaching staff on draft night as a possibility if Dangerfield was off the board in the second round was Ogwumike.

When Dangerfield was still available at No. 16, however, Minnesota felt like it should select the point guard out of Connecticut rather than Ogwumike, who wrapped up a stellar career at Rice.

Without a third-round pick, the Lynx knew they would have to make a trade if they wanted to bring in Ogwumike in 2020, which resulted in them making a deal right after the draft with the New York Liberty, trading Stephanie Talbot to New York for the young prospect.

“I like a lot about Erica Ogwumike. We had some thoughts about where we might take her, but when Crystal was there at No. 16, the first thing we started talking about was how to we get Erica?” Reeve recalled. “We brought that together pretty quickly to New York. I like what she brings to the table and she’ll get a shot.”

Ogwumike is a familiar name to many Lynx fans and others around the WNBA, with her two older sisters Chiney and Nneka currently playing for the Los Angeles Sparks. That bloodline and familiarity with the league was something Reeve found really attractive when it came to acquiring the youngest Ogqumike sibling on draft night.

“I like that Erica knows these players and probably watched the game where I called her sister the biggest flopper. I like that somebody has some inside information on LA in some ways,” Reeve said. “I just think Erica can give us something different. That’s what we really wanted. She has her work cut out for her, but I like that she has clearly been around the WNBA for a long time.”

Off the court at Rice, Ogwumike went through medical school where she already earned her degree in health sciences prior to her final basketball season. On the court, she was equally as talented, leading the Owls with double-digit averages in points and rebounds as a guard during her senior campaign.

Ogwumike will have her work cut out for her on the Lynx roster throughout training camp and potentially in the 2020 season, but she feels ready to take the next step and help Minnesota this year.

“I’m just grateful that my name was called (in the draft). I’m really grateful and really excited, regardless of what team I’m on,” she said. “We’re all just really excited that I am going to have the opportunity to be on this team.”

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