Lauren Cox was nervous all week leading up to Friday night’s WNBA draft.
The Baylor All-American felt sure she would be selected by either her hometown Dallas Wings or the Indiana Fever.
Either one would be a good deal, and before she went to bed that night, the 6-foot-4 center was welcomed to Indianapolis, even if only via technology because of the remote nature of the league draft due to the coronavirus.
“I was shaking a little bit,” Cox said before her name was called as the Fever’s No. 1 pick and as the WNBA’s third overall selection.
Cox spoke at a Saturday morning media session, again remotely, and was joined by the Fever family, including Tamika Catchings, vice president of basketball operations and general manager, and coach Marianne Stanley. A distinguished college coach and longtime league coach, Stanley is in her first season as the Fever’s boss.
The Fever, coming off a 13-21 record in 2019, added Iowa’s 5-9 guard Kathleen Doyle in the second round and James Madison 5-10 guard Kamiah Smalls in the third round.
Stanley believes the newcomers will blend nicely with holdovers. Cox is a renowned instinctive passer in the post, and Stanley, a one-time college point guard, can identify with their floor sense.
“All of them have quick minds,” Stanley said.
She said forwards on the fast break will be rewarded when they run. It will be, “Let’s go and people will find you.”
It was only recently announced Catchings, who played her entire 15-year pro career with the Fever after starring at Tennessee, has been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
That ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 29, though with COVID-19 sweeping the country, it is not 100% clear if the date will hold.
Similarly, the Fever’s draft preparation tested the capabilities of technology. Catchings said officials invested “hours and hours” researching between breaks.
“It has been a whirlwind the last couple of months,” Catchings said.
Doyle was selected all-Big Ten and represented the United States in the Pan American Games. She averaged in double figures for Iowa and piled up assists.
Smalls was the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, averaging 18.6 points a game. Fever staff members believe she might be a sleeper pick.
Cox has Type I diabetes and has participated in games raising funds to combat the illness. Her sister, Whitney, also diagnosed with diabetes, plays for Lubbock Christian, and the duo shared the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s Pat Summit Most Courageous Award. Cox considers herself a role model, showing children with diabetes what can be accomplished.
Cox is a versatile player. This winter, she averaged 12.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.7 blocks a game. Cox was thrown a mini-parade outside her family house in Texas, complete with confetti, as a way of celebrating her high draft selection.
Ordinarily, Cox would be in Indiana and the season underway. But with much of American daily life on hold, she has no idea when she can actually play for the Fever.
“It’s definitely weird,” Cox said. “You don’t know when it’s going to happen.”