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Originally published Monday, April 15, 2013 at 9:58 PM

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Griner era begins for loaded Phoenix

Brittney Griner left an indelible mark on women's college basketball. Now she's ready to take on the pros. The Phoenix Mercury took Baylor's...

The Associated Press

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BRISTOL, Conn. — Brittney Griner left an indelible mark on women's college basketball. Now she's ready to take on the pros.

The Phoenix Mercury took Baylor's star center with the top pick in the WNBA draft Monday night.

Griner was predictably followed by Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, picked second by the Chicago Sky, and Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame was selected third by the Tulsa Shock.

Despite knowing she was going first, Griner, the two-time AP Player of the Year, admitted she was extremely nervous.

"It's a dream come true. I'm like a little kid in Disney World the first time meeting all the characters," Griner said.

The 6-foot-8 phenom finished as the second all-time scorer in women's NCAA history, with 3,283 points. She is the top shot-blocker ever, shattering both the men's and women's college marks with 748. She also had a record 18 dunks.

Griner joins a talented Mercury squad that was plagued by injuries most of last season. Star Diana Taurasi played in only eight games and Penny Taylor missed the entire year while recovering from an ACL injury.

"I'm ready to get there and ready to learn from (Taurasi)," Griner said.

Like Phoenix, Chicago added a budding star in Delle Donne to an already-stacked roster that just missed the playoffs last season. The 6-foot-5 forward, who can play multiple positions, was second in the nation in scoring (26.0). She finished her career at Delaware with 3,039 career points — fifth all-time in NCAA history.

"You don't say where you want to go before it was happening," Delle Donne said, "but Chicago was my pick and I wanted to go there really badly."

Diggins averaged 17.1 points, 6.1 assists and 3.1 steals while helping the Irish reach the Final Four the past three seasons.

"When I entered Notre Dame, we had lost in the first round of the tournament the year before," Diggins said. "At the end of my career we had brought the program back to an elite level. I'm looking forward to get to Tulsa and show my leadership skills."

While the first three picks were almost a lock, the rest of the draft was a bit more of a mystery.

Washington took Ohio State guard Tayler Hill fourth. The New York Liberty and new coach Bill Laimbeer took Texas A&M's Kelsey Bone fifth and then two picks later drafted Oklahoma State's Toni Young. After Seattle at No. 6, San Antonio took Syracuse center Kayla Alexander eighth, Cal's Layshia Clarendon went ninth to Indiana. Los Angeles took Kentucky's A'dia Mathies 10th, and Connecticut drafted UConn forward Kelly Faris 11th.

Former Kentwood High School star point guard Lindsey Moore was selected 12th overall by Minnesota. She left as a decorated player at Nebraska, having some of her better games against the University of Minnesota in Big Ten competition.

Seattle Times staff reporter Jayda Evans contributed to this report.

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