Mystics select Shakira Austin with No. 3 pick in 2022 WNBA Draft

Mystics select Shakira Austin with No. 3 pick in WNBA Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

There’s a new budding star in the District. With the No. 3 pick of the 2022 WNBA Draft, the Washington Mystics selected Shakira Austin from Ole Miss.

Austin returns to the D.C. area after spending the first two seasons of her collegiate career at the University of Maryland.  The 6-foot-5 center was a starter for the Terrapins but is one of a bevy of transfers from the program over the past handful of years. She’s a native of Fredericksburg, Va. and played her high school ball at Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Md.

At Ole Miss, she took on a much bigger role leading the offense out of the post. She became the focal point and was recognized as an Honorable Mention All-American by turning around the program in two seasons. In her senior year, she averaged 15.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.1 blocks.

With the Mystics, Austin will provide incredible depth at the center position behind Elizabeth Williams. Being able to guard at multiple positions makes her an ideal fit for a Mike Thibault-coached team. After all, there’s been an added emphasis on the defensive end over the past two free agency periods by acquiring Alysha Clark and Williams. Austin will also get a chance to learn under two of the best defensive players in the game, on top of being an outstanding defender in her own right.

Additionally, she’ll get out and be a rim-runner in ways that Washington hasn’t seen since Thibault came to D.C. Throw the ball to her in the paint and she can easily create her own shot with her handles and throw it out to teammates on the perimeter. 

Even better for the incoming prospect is that Washington isn’t going to rely on her to be the difference-maker this season. Typically, – as you see with struggling franchises like the Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever – a top pick has to fill in a big void for a team to help raise them up to a contender this season. The Mystics have the luxury of just putting Austin into the system and reaping the benefits years down the line.

With Elena Delle Donne and Clark returning for presumably a full season, the Mystics should reclaim their status as a championship-caliber team this September. Austin will likely be just the seventh or eighth person in the rotation.

The Mystics weren’t done after selecting Austin. With their recently obtained 14th overall pick, Washington selected Christyn Williams from Connecticut. It’s another addition to bolster the defensive end. She’s a combo guard who can score on and off the ball.

She’ll join the team immediately with training camp starting later this month. The Mystics’ season begins on May 6 against the Indiana Fever at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. 

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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