KEEPING THE (ATLANTA) DREAM ALIVE
Wallace `Speechless' About Being Selected in the 2nd round of WNBA Draft
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Kristy Wallace came to the U.S. with the specific goal of playing in the WNBA and getting the kind of exposure at Baylor that it takes to get noticed by scouts and coaches.
She thought that dream might have died on Feb. 26, when Wallace tore the ACL in her right knee in the Lady Bears' regular-season finale against West Virginia in what turned out to be a sobering Senior Night celebration.
"I thought my chances were over, honestly," she said.
Not even close.
Thursday night, the Atlanta Dream (how appropriate is that?) selected the 5-foot-11 guard from Australia in the second round with the 16th pick overall right after drafting 6-4 forward Monique Billings from UCLA.
"Going into the Draft, I had talked to a few coaches beforehand, but I really didn't expect the result I had," said Wallace, who was the 14th Lady Bear drafted and first ever in the second round. "Just having support from the Dream, from the coaches, from the coaches here at Baylor, that's been so incredible and I'm so thankful."
Because of her lower expectations, Wallace wasn't even watching the ESPN coverage when her name was called.
"I went to one of my best mate's house and I was actually outside when my name got announced," she said. "But, I had my phone on me and saw my name and I didn't believe it at first. I was kind of like, `What?' So, I went inside and saw it on TV and just kind of cried, bawled my eyes out. I talked to my dad, and we just laughed and cried. . . . It was just a memory that I'll never forget."
Since she's just a month out from reconstructive surgery, Wallace said things are "all up in the air right now."
"I'm just working on getting my knee better. I need to keep talking to the Atlanta coaches and sort out what the deal is for my rehab," she said.
With a deep roster that includes guards Tiffany Hayes, Brittney Sykes and Renee Montgomery, the former UConn and Minnesota Lynx star who signed in the offseason, Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collen said Wallace "was worth waiting a year to have with us."
"I had the pleasure of getting to know Kristy when I recruited her as an assistant at Arkansas," Collen said. "Kristy is a versatile guard that will do whatever it takes to win. . . . Her combination of size and scoring ability from the point guard position made her one of the top guard prospects in this draft."
An All-Big 12 first-team selection and WBCA honorable mention All-American who was also named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team, Wallace averaged 12.9 points, 5.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game as a senior. She is one of just three players in program history to dish out 500 career assists.
"My four years here at Baylor have been incredible," said Wallace, who was the team co-MVP with junior center Kalani Brown and also received the Melissa Jones Hustle & Courage Award at the April 6 Lady Bear banquet. "I've grown and learned so much as a person and I'm so thankful that I came here and had the opportunity to come here. The people that have supported me have been incredible and overwhelming."
Having her surgery back home in Australia, she missed Baylor's run in the Big 12 Championship and NCAA tournament, where the Lady Bears lost to Oregon State in the region semifinals. Wallace returned for the Lady Bear banquet and is scheduled to graduate next month.
"Being back home and not being there for my teammates, that was really hard for me," she said. "But, they did a great job, they rose to the challenge and they did the best they could with the numbers we had. I'm just very proud of the team and the result we had."
THANK YOU TO DONORS: "A big, massive thank you to the Bear Foundation and the scholarship they provided for me. Just being able to have the opportunity to play for such a great school, be involved with such a great group of people and just to represent this school has been incredible. I'm so thankful to have this opportunity and that the Bear Foundation has allowed that to happen. So, a big thank you to them." - Kristy Wallace, senior
WACO, Texas -- The Atlanta Dream selected Baylor women's basketball senior Kristy Wallace with the 16th overall pick in the second round of the 2018 WNBA Draft Thursday night.
"It's a really exciting time," Wallace said. "I've worked so hard to get to this moment and for it to happen is so awesome. I can't wait to show them my game and learn from other professionals in the league. It's so surreal that this happened."
The Loganholme, Queensland, Australia, native is the 14th Lady Bear to be drafted all-time and the first-ever second round pick. Baylor has had a player chosen in the WNBA Draft in each of the last three years. All 14 draft picks have come during head coach Kim Mulkey's tenure.
Wallace, who sustained a season-ending ACL injury to her left knee in the regular season finale, led the Lady Bears in assists with 155 on the season. She ranked fourth in the Big 12 in assists and 59th nationally in the category, despite playing in just 29 contests.
"I am honestly speechless," Wallace said. "I'm so thankful and blessed. This year has been really tough in a lot of ways, but for this to happen, it's just really phenomenal."
Wallace averaged 12.9 points, 5.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game for Baylor. She secured WBCA All-America honorable mention accolades for the first time and was also unanimously named to the All-Big 12 first team for the first time.
The 5-11 guard, who was also named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team this year, was named espnW National Player of the Week on Jan. 29 after netting a career-high 27 points against No. 6/6 Texas and 25 points against No. 19/20 West Virginia.
Wallace is one of three players to distribute 500 career assists at Baylor. She led the Lady Bears in assists 20 times and scoring six times this season alone.
"I just want to say thank you to everyone at Baylor for having my back through the ups and downs," Wallace said. "Being there for me and for the support, especially through my ACL injury. I'm just so thankful and so blessed to have my support group at Baylor and in Waco."