Tuck Realizes Her WNBA Dream, Drafted By The Sun At No. 3 By Rich Elliott
POSTED April 15, 2016
By Rich Elliott
UNCASVILLE – Morgan Tuck could have remained at UConn. She had one year of eligibility remaining after a knee injury robbed her of all but eight games during her sophomore season.
But Tuck came in with fellow seniors Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson. They made history together with the Huskies by winning four straight national championships. There was no way that Tuck was going to pass up the opportunity to join the WNBA with two of her closest friends.
Just like Stewart and Jefferson did Thursday, Tuck realized her dream when the Connecticut Sun selected her with the No. 3 pick of the WNBA Draft at Mohegan Sun Arena. It ended an unprecedented run of three straight UConn players as Stewart went No. 1 to the Seattle Storm and Jefferson went No. 2 to the San Antonio Stars.
``This day means so much,’’ Tuck said. ``The first time I thought about it I was in fourth grade. I loved Lisa Leslie. She was my favorite. I did a project on her in school. And since then I knew that I wanted to play in the WNBA. And then to now to get drafted into it it’s kind of surreal that it’s actually happened just because at such a young age of wanting to do it and now I’m able to. So it’s great.’’
It is the first time in professional sports that the top three picks of a draft have come from the same school.
Jefferson and Stewart could not have been happier to share in Tuck’s big night. They have witnessed firsthand how much she has overcome to reach this point in her career.
``Probably the happiest I was the entire night, even happier than I was for myself because I know the type of player that Morgan Tuck is,’’ Jefferson said referring to hearing Tuck’s name announced by WNBA president Lisa Borders. ``I know that’s exactly what she deserves. So I almost came to tears in the back watching her before I even did about my own self.’’
Said Stewart: ``I’m so happy. That might’ve made me more happy than being No. 1 overall or anything like that. But to see her go through all that she’s been through, be able to leave with us and then for us to go 1, 2, 3 that’s picture perfect.’’
Tuck, who announced April 6 that she would declare for the WNBA Draft, finished her career at UConn with 1,298 points and 544 rebounds in 115 games. She earned a medical hardship waiver after missing the final 32 games in 2013-14.
Overall, Tuck missed 41 games at UConn due to injury. However, her final season was her best as she averaged 13.7 points and career-highs of 5.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 26.8 minutes in 33 games.
Sun coach Curt Miller said that he has no major concerns regarding Tuck’s health.
``We’ve had a lot of conversations not only with their medical personnel, but with Coach (Geno Auriemma) himself and how they managed her minutes in terms of practice,’’ Miller said. ``Other than the two weeks (at the end of January) that she sat out it really never was a factor of sitting out a game. She has been more comfortable than ever down the stretch of the season without that brace. But certainly medical people were involved with some of the decisions and looking at that. And it’s certainly something that we’re aware of, but we think that she’s got a bright future and it won’t be a huge factor.’’
Both Miller and Sun general manager Chris Sienko raved about landing Tuck.
``I think Morgan is really ready to go,’’ Sienko said. ``She’s a pro. She’s Asjha Jones is who she is right now. And we think that’s going to be a big thing for our team. We’re just excited to have her here.’’
Said Miller: ``Morgan’s a winner, first and foremost. There’s something to be said about Connecticut players. They’re true professionals. But also Morgan gets a lot of credit about being the leader of that group. Maybe the unheralded one on the floor, but she was the glue and the leader behind the scenes with that crew.’’
The Sun finished last in the Eastern Conference in 2015 (15-19). They have not had a winning season or made the playoffs since finishing 25-9 under coach Mike Thibault in 2012.
Tuck joins a frontcourt that features Kelsey Bone, Chiney Ogwumike, Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Alyssa Thomas. Like she did with the Huskies, she is eagerly waiting the chance to prove herself with the Sun.
``I think Connecticut’s a great team and I think it’s going to be great to be able to come in and really try to earn a spot on the team,’’ Tuck said. ``I think the same with coming to UConn. When you go into a team that has really great players, or like the whole league has really great players, it makes you work harder and it makes you play better. So I definitely am going to try to use it as a motivating factor.’’