With the Atlanta Dream on the clock, it wasn’t much of a surprise to most in the room when University of Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard heard her name called first overall in the WNBA Draft. Nonetheless, it was still a surreal moment and a dream come true for Rhyne.
“To go first, I don’t even have words for it right now. I’m still kind of shaking,” Howard said. “But it is super exciting, and I’m proud of what I’ve done, proud of myself, and thankful for everyone that’s been on this journey with me and that’s helped me to get here.”
Howard, a three-time AP All-America First Team selection, averaged 20.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists as a senior. In each of the past three seasons, she was a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award as the nation’s top guard and the Cheryl Miller Award as the best small forward.
“Rhyne is a versatile wing who can score the ball in a variety of ways,” said Atlanta Dream general manager Dan Padover. “Her athleticism and basketball IQ will be the backbone of her future success in this league. She’s a great kid from nearby and we think she will be a key piece for the future of this basketball team.”
Howard led the Wildcats to its first SEC Tournament title since 1982, upsetting No. 1-ranked South Carolina, as she received the MVP award for the tournament.
With all the accolades she received in college, Howard believes she can translate some of that success into the WNBA.
“I just want to do that by my competitive spirit and the will to never give up and always fight and just maintain my composure and stay calm, cool, and collected,” Howard said. “I think that’s what really helped me to become successful and I just really want to have an impact on the team, like when I get there and just continue to make everyone better.”
Atlanta acquired Howard after acquiring the first pick in the WNBA Draft through a trade with the Washington Mystics for the No. 3 and No. 14 overall picks.
Now that Howard has officially made it to the next level, she has some advice for the younger generation that may want to play in the WNBA:
“Always believe in yourself. If somebody says you can’t do it, then you have no choice but to prove that you can. Always work on your craft and keep those who want to see you succeed around you.”