For a flock of Blue Hens, time to go pro
SPORTS | Elena Delle Donne, who thrilled UD fans with her spectacular play over the last four seasons as one of the nation’s top women’s basketball players, joined the Chicago Sky this spring as the No. 2 pick in the WNBA draft.
As expected, Baylor’s Brittney Griner was the top draft selection, followed by Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins. The league is promoting the trio among fans as “Three to See” as each player joined the WNBA off a record-breaking college career.
“There’s no question that this draft class has potential to be a moment in time, and we’ll look back 10, 20 years and remember that class that came in with Brittney, Skylar and Elena,” WNBA president Laurel Richie said.
On May 27, Delle Donne made her long-awaited professional debut in a televised match against Griner and the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA season opener.
Delle Donne scored 22 points and had eight rebounds and four blocked shots as the Sky beat the Mercury 102-80. A 6-foot-5 guard/forward, Delle Donne graduated from UD in May.
“I think she’s definitely key when you think about her talent, her skill set and her size,” Sky head coach Pokey Chatman told wnba.com.
Other former Blue Hen athletes moving on to the professional level include four who were selected in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft.
On the first day of the draft, junior first baseman Jimmy Yezzo was picked in the seventh round by the Washington Nationals, and junior pitcher Chad Kuhl was selected in the ninth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The next day, seniors Matt Soren and Nick Ferdinand were drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies. Soren, a pitcher, was taken in the 19th round and Ferdinand, an outfielder, was taken in the 35th round.
Yezzo, the Colonial Athletic Association player of the year and UD’s outstanding male athlete of the year, was the first UD player to be drafted since 2010 and the highest pick since 2008, when the Cincinnati Reds took outfielder Alex Buchholz in the sixth round.
“This is a tremendous honor,” Yezzo said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play for a great organization. I’m excited to get out and start playing.”
Delaware head coach Jim Sherman called all the draft picks “very deserving” and praised their hard work as Blue Hens. In Yezzo’s case, he said, “This is just a tremendous honor for Jimmy and our program.”
In football, the NFL draft passed with no Delaware players selected, but three went on to sign free agent contracts. Paul Worrilow, a three-time All-Colonial Athletic Association linebacker and one of Delaware’s all-time leading tacklers, signed with the Atlanta Falcons; Ricky Tunstall, a defensive back who also returned punts, signed with the Cleveland Browns; and four-year starting cornerback Marcus Burley inked a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The three joined seven other former Blue Hens on active rosters in the NFL—quarterback Joe Flacco and center Gino Gradkowski of the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, veteran safety Mike Adams of the Denver Broncos, quarterback Pat Devlin of the Miami Dolphins, defensive back Anthony Walters of the Chicago Bears, defensive end Ronald Talley of the Arizona Cardinals and tight end/fullback Josh Baker of the New York Jets.
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