MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia University’s Bria Holmes saw her dreams come true on Thursday night when the guard was selected as the 11th overall pick in the WNBA draft.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Holmes said. “It has always been a dream of mine to fulfill my dream to play in the WNBA and obviously getting drafted, especially in the first round, that has always been my dream to go first round and I really wasn’t expecting tonight to go first round but my dream actually came true and I couldn’t be any more happier and proud of myself and all the things that I have been through here and in high school just paved the way for me.”
Holmes scored 2,001 points in four years with the Mountaineers, becoming the third player to accomplish the feat. She averaged 14.5 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game and had a 42.8 field goal percentage.
The 6-foot-1 guard was the highest draft pick in WVU women’s basketball history and she was the first Conn. native to be selected in the first round of the WNBA draft.
Holmes should fit in nicely in Atlanta. The Mountaineers are a defense first team and the Dream instill the same philosophy.
“I think going into this draft one of the things we needed to field first, a need for us was a backup wing player and we got Angel McCoughtry and we didn’t really have a solid back up for her,” Atlanta head coach Michael Cooper said. “We needed a backup to fill that position and we crossed our fingers all season long, especially when the draft started tonight that Bria would be right here for us and the selection fell right into our lap.
“There are a lot of wants that people want in the drafts and very seldom do you just get your needs filled. And we definitely got our needs filled tonight. And I think Bria is going to have an excellent career here. There is a great opportunity for her to make our ball club and I am a defensive coach so I am pretty sure she is going to like the way things roll around here.”
Cooper knew that Holmes would be the perfect addition for Atlanta for a while now.
“She was on our radar last year,” he said. “I kept seeing the things she did. What attracted me to her a lot was obviously her defensive play. I think the size that she has. It’s very rare that you get players at 6-foot-1 that can move and do all the things as good as she does as well as defend as well as she did on defense.
“She has been on my radar for a while now. At the start of this season, the WNBA has a hit list on the top seniors, and she was right on top. She was a top-16 player, so we had her in our scope for a while, and we are happy that we were able to get her.”
One of the things that Cooper really liked about the 2012 McDonald’s All-American is her size and her defensive skill set.
“I think that her size is what’s going to help her a lot and I think her tenacity,” Cooper said. “Bria is the type of player that I think can play in any system as long as she gets the opportunity and we play her type of system here. It’s more of a free throw in the offensive end. She can get to the basket in a flash or she can shoot the three. And that’s what we like to do. So everything she likes to do is everything we want her to do.”
Holmes believes she will make a nice addition to the Dream roster.
“My thoughts are pretty good about them,” she said. “I feel like I am the style of player. Coach kind of fits West Virginia style of play. I think they put defense first. That’s how it was here so I think I’ll pretty much fit in pretty smoothly with the rotations and how they go about playing offense and defense.”
The New Haven native had a suspicion that Atlanta may select her but it still came as a shock to the guard.
“I heard a lot from them but I hadn’t really talked to them,” she said. “I heard they were looking at me and talking to coach (Mike) Carey a lot so I kind of had a feeling that was one of the teams that were looking at me a lot and projected to where I was going. So I kind of knew but then again I didn’t know where I was going tonight.”
Holmes watched the draft at the WVU practice facility with her former teammates and staff and she was thrilled to share her special moment with them.
“It was a blessing honestly to have so much support tonight and to have my West Virginia family here to support me and my teammates and staff members,” Holmes said. “Like I said it was a great, exciting moment and something I will never forget.”
When the Holmes received the call from the Dream, it was none other than guard Ariel Massengale on the other end of the line to welcome her to the team.
“Well, actually one of the players actually called me and he came and just said am I ready for defense,” Holmes added. “And of course I am ready for defense because that’s all coach Carey played here.”
The former WVU standout didn’t have a favorite NBA team before but now she does.
“I didn’t have a favorite team but I had a favorite player, which was Maya Moore. I really looked up to her and how she played her game. She is an excellent player. But I have a favorite team now… the Atlanta Dream.”
While Holmes’ dreams are coming true, she knows she has a lot of hard work ahead and a lot of room to grow.
Kate Bulger Minnesota 2004 3 38
Yolanda Paige Indiana 2005 2 16
Olayinka Sanni Detroit 2008 2 18
Asya Bussie Minnesota 2014 2 15
Bria Holmes Atlanta 2016 1 11