Jim Krajewski of RGJ.com reported that University of Nevada senior and superstar guard Tahnee Robinson has was the 31st overall pick in the draft on Monday, selected by the Phoenix Mercury and then traded to the Connecticut Sun for a third-round pick next year. She is the first American Indian drafted into the WNBA (the wonderful Ryneldi Becenti, Navajo, was signed as a free agent by the Phoenix Mercury in 1997).
Robinson is originally from the Wind River Reservation in Fort Washakie, Wyoming. Her mother is Pawnee and Eastern Shoshone, and her father is Northern Cheyenne and Sioux. On Wyoming’s Star-Tribune’s website, Jack Nowlin wrote that Robinson is the first Wyoming-born player ever drafted by the WNBA (she is also the first player from the University of Nevada ever selected.)
At Lander Valley High School, Robinson was an all-stater, taking the team to the 2006 Class 3A state title. She was a McDonald’s and Gatorade All-American while in higih school. She then went on to Sheridan College, earning NJCAA (National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association) All-America honors. In the 2008-2009 season, Robinson led the nation in scoring, averaging 29.8 points a game, and took her Sheridan Generals all the way to the Region IX championship game, which they won, thanks to a stretch of games in which she scored 32, 49, 29 and 20 points respectively.
Robinson was destined to move onto a bigger stage, so she transferred to Division 1 at the University of Nevada. All she did there was get named to the first team All-Western Athletic Conference each of her two years at the school, leading the Wolf Pack in her senior year to a 22-11 record and their first ever post season win. Robinson nailed six three-pointers in that game against Saint Mary’s, ending up with a game high 22 points. It was a fitting number of points to drop, she finished her collegiate career averaging 22 points her senior season. Robinson isn’t just a scorer, she becomes a well rounded basketball player, adding 6.1 rebounds a game while hitting a very impressive 42-percent from 3-point range and 81-percent from the free throw line.
Her profile grew considerably this year when she was selected as one of the five finalists for the prestigious Sullivan Award, given by the Amateur Athletic Union each year to the nation’s top amateur athlete. She was the only American Indian in the group of five (the award eventually went to Olympic gold medalist figure skater Evan Lysacek.)
With the national attention two stellar seasons at Nevada and the Sullivan Award nomination elevating her profile, Krajewski reported on RGJ.com that Robinson hired an agent while at the NCAA Women’s Final Four during the first week of April in Indianapolis while also signing a contract with Nike.
Sheridan College coach Frank McCarthy told Nowlin of the Star-Tribune that no one deserves success more then Robinson. ”I’ve never had a player work as hard as she did.”
The Connecticut Sun are hoping Robinson’s star keeps rising. They finished 17-17 last season, fifth in the Eastern Conference. Robinson will join 2010 WNBA Rookie of the Year Tina Charles, as well as their seventh pick in last year’s draft, Danielle McCray, who will be seeing her first action along with Robinson thanks to missing all of last season with an ACL injury.
Sun coach Mike Thibault is enthused about Robinson’s work ethic as much as he is about her raw scoring talent. ”This is a player we’ve been watching all along,” Thibault told RGJ.com. “She has a natural knack for scoring, that’s a hard thing to teach. She’s a tough kid physically. She’s got a pro body to play at this level. She’s done a good job over the last 12-14 months to get ready to play at this level.”
Training camp begins on May 15th, with the WNBA season starting just a few weeks later on June 3rd. Robinson will soon be practicing and playing with (and against) players she has been watching on TV. “I’m definitely thrilled to meet them, but you can’t show them you’re too excited. I’m excited to be part of the whole process. To even be part of the WNBA is a big accomplishment. I’m very blessed to be here,” she told RGJ.com.
The Connecticut Sun coaches, players, and fans will soon be feeling very blessed themselves with their latest acquisition.