Kylee Shook was, well, a little shook when she found out the New York Liberty selected her with the first pick of the second round during Friday’s WNBA draft.
The woman who set Colorado high school basketball records and graduated from Mesa Ridge watched the draft alongside family in Colorado Springs. As the first round concluded, Shook answered a call from Jazmine Jones, a college teammate at Louisville, just after the latter was drafted by the Liberty with the 12th and final pick of the first round.
The timing was a little confusing to Shook, who figured she would be the one offering congratulations.
“She didn’t even know what was going on,” Jones said on a Louisville teleconference. “She was like ‘Why are you screaming? Why are you screaming?’ and I’m like ‘Kylee you just got picked. You just got picked.’ And then she looked at the TV, and it happened. I was just so excited for Kylee.”
The 6-foot-4 forward was projected to go later in the second or some time in the third round by most.
“To be honest, I was surprised,” Shook said of her place in the draft. “All the mock drafts came out and everything was up in the air.”
Now that her future is a little more settled, Shook’s hard at work to get in the best shape possible to deal with the increased physicality of the WNBA. She’s following a program from her strength and conditioning coach at Louisville, though she figures to be the only one doing so at elevation, while also getting shots up at a local park and cardio in at an open track.
“Just getting acclimated again is hard,” Shook said. “My legs are numb.”
In Brooklyn, she’ll join a very talented, and very young, squad under first-year coach Walt Hopkins. After trading center Tina Charles, the Liberty’s only post to average more than 10 points last year, New York finished with five of the first 13 picks, including the No. 1 pick. The top pick was used on Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, figured to be a generational talent by most. The Liberty also added UConn’s Megan Walker (No. 9) and Virginia’s Jocelyn Willoughby (No. 10) before closing the first round and starting the second round with two members of Louisville’s winningest senior class in program history.
Shook and Jones went 125-19 over four years with the Cardinals, reaching the Sweet 16 as freshmen, the Final Four as sophomores and the Elite Eight as juniors before their senior season ended at the hands of the coronavirus. For her efforts last season, Shook was named an all-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team selection, earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, a national award, after becoming Louisville’s career leader in blocks with 223. She averaged 10.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and one steal as a senior while shooting 47.6% from the field, including 38% from 3-point range, over her Louisville career.
“I’ve been with Kylee for four years, so I know what Kylee can bring to the table every single night and every single practice,” Jones said.
Friday was a night Shook started dreaming of in elementary school and worked to make reality throughout high school and college. Though the original dream probably featured another deep March run before receiving the traditional draft-night phone call from her agent or future coach, Shook was fine with Jones shaking things up.
“We were all jumping and laughing,” Shook said. “It was a good time. It was fun.”