Hooper waiting for her WNBA future

2014-04-13T23:00:00Z 2014-04-14T00:03:05Z Hooper waiting for her WNBA futureBy DARNELL DICKSON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Jordan Hooper is looking for a television.

One with the sports package.

The Nebraska All-American basketball player is anxious to find out where her life will take her next, but she doesn’t get ESPN where she lives, so she needs to find somewhere to watch Monday’s WNBA Draft.

“I’ve got to go to the gym or if someone is having a watch party, I can say, ‘Hey, can I join?’” she said.

Hooper is expected to be an early-to-middle second-round choice on Monday. The draft will be held at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and the first round will be televised live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. Coverage of the second and third rounds will be televised on ESPNU from 8 to 9:30. There were 12 former college players — the most likely first round picks — invited to attend the event, but Hooper wasn’t among them.

“I didn’t get invited, but that’s OK,” Hooper said. “That probably means second round, which is fine. As long as I go somewhere and can start working so I can prove myself.”

Hooper has proved plenty in her college career. At 6-foot-2 with unlimited range, the Alliance native would seem to be a good fit for the WNBA. Her international experience — last summer she played for Team USA at the World University Games in Russia — is also a plus.

Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike is expected to be the first pick of the draft, which is held by the Connecticut Sun. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas, who was selected as the Big Ten Player of the Year in a media vote (Hooper was the coaches' selection), is considered a Top 10 pick. Draftsite.com has Hooper at No. 21, a selection owned by the Phoenix Mercury. At collegesportsmadness.com, Hooper is the No. 13 player on the board, just outside of the first round.

The Minnesota Lynx, where Hooper’s best friend and former Husker Lindsey Moore plays, have pick No. 12 in the first round and Nos. 15 and 24 in the second.

Hooper knows she could end up with any of the league's 12 teams, coast to coast. She’ll be busy in the next month, too, since training camps start April 29 and Nebraska graduation is May 10.

“It’s going to be a huge transition,” Hooper said. “I think it’s going to be the same sort of transition as high school to college, only more intense. I went from a small town to the city, now I’ll be going from the city to an even bigger city. Wherever I go will be bigger than Lincoln. The level of competition is going to go up, and I’ve got to be prepared for that.”

Hooper has signed with X2 Inc., the same sports agency that represents Moore.

“I trust what she (Moore) has to say, but I don’t make my decisions based on what she wants me to do,” Hooper said. “I base my decisions on what feels right for me. At the end of the day it’s my life. But it definitely helps to have someone that has gone right before you, and had the experienced overseas and in the WNBA. She said she would try to put in a good word with Minnesota.”

Hooper said she had only been contacted by one coach: Dan Hughes of the San Antonio Silver Stars.

“He said he’s been following me for a while,” Hooper said. “He likes the way I play and how hard a worker I am. I hope teams see that I’m a hard worker and will play any position they put me in. As a backup, a second backup … I’ll work my tail off to help the team.”

Hooper said she’s been dreaming of playing professional basketball since her freshman year of high school.

“I thought if I could just make it at each level and keep improving my game, I could make it,” Hooper said. “It didn’t really become a reality until the end of this season. I was so focused because I wanted it to be a great senior season. But after the season was done and I was able to reflect back, I was very ready to go on to the next level. I’m really anxious just to know where I’ll be going.”

If selected, Hooper would be the fifth Husker to be drafted by the WNBA in the past eight years, joining Moore (2013), Kelsey Griffin (2010), Cory Montgomery (2010) and Kiera Hardy (2007).

Reach the sports editor at 402-473-7320 or ddickson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSDarnellD.

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