Dolson and Hartley to be teammates again in Washington
UNCASVILLE - Geno Auriemma has joked that Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley were attached at the hip through four years at UConn. As it turns out, they won't have to sever that bond to enter the pro ranks; both are joining the WNBA's Washington Mystics after Monday night's draft.
"We were freshman together and now we're going to go in, and we're going to be rookies together," Hartley said. "It's a dream-come-true moment."
The duo is used to quick turnarounds. Every year, UConn schedules a plethora of Saturday-Monday, Sunday-Tuesday games to prepare for the speed of the NCAA tournament.
But the seniors' whirlwind between last Tuesday - when they won a national title in their final collegiate game - and Monday night - when Dolson was drafted No. 6 overall and Hartley No. 7- can't be simulated.
"It's been a little hectic," Hartley said. "Winning a national championship, then coming back - we had two days home and then we had to leave for [rookie] orientation, which was just a lot of information all at once. And then this moment finally arriving, it's just really exciting."
Monday night was no less crazy. Dolson was selected by the Mystics midway through the first round to thunderous applause from the Connecticut faithful in attendance. Hartley was chosen as the very next selection by the Seattle Storm to the same reaction, but was later traded to Washington, reuniting the two teammates at the pro level.
"I didn't know at first [that Hartley had been selected]," Dolson said. "I was in the hallway, but then I heard the uproar and I was like, 'Oh, that had to be Bria.' I was really, really excited that she could go No. 7 and the fact that we were right after each other just means a lot because we came in together, got two national championships together and now we're going to the WNBA together."
Hartley was traded along with Tianna Hawkins to the Mystics, while Crystal Langhorne was sent to Seattle.
Hartley and Dolson are the lone UConn players on the Mystics. Eight WNBA teams now have at least one former Husky on their roster.
There have now been 27 Huskies selected in the WNBA Draft since the league formed in 1997, 15 of which were taken in the first round.
"A big goal of the kids coming out of high school these days is, 'I want to go play in the WNBA,'" Auriemma said. "And the more players that we have drafted in the first round, the more players around the country see that and the more they want to come to Connecticut."
WNBA training camps open on April 27 and preseason games run from May 2-13. Of course, that overlaps with the conclusion of the semester - the last week of classes, finals and graduation weekend - for the two seniors.
But both expect the transition to go smoothly and, as is typical of WNBA draftees, should be able to walk in their respective commencement ceremonies, pending team approval.
"Preparing for it this weekend [at rookie orientation] we got to talk to a lot of players, coaches and mentors," Dolson said, "that told us it was going to be tough rookie year. But as long as we went into training camp ready to work as hard as we can and prove to them why we were in this draft tonight, I think I'll be alright."
Both will play their first regular season game May 16 against Minnesota and former teammate Maya Moore.
For now, their non-basketball playing friends in Storrs will be watching with a jealous grin. After all, Tuesday night meant post-graduation job security for the duo - something not every college senior can boast.
"That's the one thing everyone says," Hartley said. "They're like, 'I wish I could just finish my career and have a job within the next couple days.' But that's the way it is for us in women's basketball...I always tell them, they work really hard and they'll get a really good job as well."
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