Ohlde selected sixth overall by Minnesota Lynx

From rural Kansas to the big time, Nicole Ohlde, K-State's prized center, was selected today by the Minnesota Lynx with the sixth overall pick in the WNBA Draft.

SECAUCUS, N.J. - Life in the WNBA has become a reality as Kansas State 6-foot-5 senior center Nicole Ohlde (Clay Center, Kan.) was selected sixth overall by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2004 WNBA Draft Saturday.

Ohlde becomes only the third women's basketball player in school history to be drafted into the world's premier women's professional basketball league. Former Wildcats Olga Firsova (1998-00) and Shanele Stires (1993-95) were drafted in 2000 by the New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx respectively. Ohlde was among a draft class, which included Connecticut's Diana Taurasi and Duke's Alana Beard, tabbed as one of the deepest and most talented classes in WNBA history.

"I'm just really excited for the opportunity to play at the next level," Ohlde said. "My time at Kansas State is irreplaceable and I loved every minute of it. Hopefully, I can go into the WNBA season and contribute in whatever way the team needs me to. It should be an exciting time in my life and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity ahead of me."

Minnesota had back-to-back first round picks and also selected Florida's Vanessa Hayden with the No. 7 overall pick. Ohlde and Hayden were joined by fellow Lynx draftees in Tennessee's Tasha Butts (20th), Boston College's Amber Jacobs (33rd) and West Virginia's Kate Bulger (38th).

"This is just so exciting to think that Nicole was selected a No. 6 pick in the strongest draft class of the history of the WNBA Draft, which is incredible," Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson said. "We are so proud of her and it is just the crowning conclusion to a fabulous collegiate career at Kansas State. She has set such an incredible standard of excellence for those that follow at Kansas State to aspire to. You have to really appreciate this small town girl from Clay Center, Kansas, because she is an example of what is possible to achieve at Kansas State.

"It was a magical moment in time for her and her parents (Stan and Marlene Ohlde) and Kansas State women's basketball. I'm ecstatic for her and her family and she is headed to a franchise that not only has great players, but great people in it. Tamika Williams (who was drafted sixth overall by the Lynx in 2002) has already started to take her two new rookies (Ohlde and Hayden) under her wings. I just couldn't have wished or hoped for a better situation for Nicole to step into and we know she has a tremendous future ahead of her."

The WNBA's eighth season will get underway on May 20, while team training camps begin next week for rookies and veterans. For more information on the WNBA Draft, log onto the following sites: www.wnba.com and www.wnba.com/lynx

Player (Years)            Team            Selection    Round        Draft Year
Nicole Ohlde (2000-04)        Minnesota Lynx        6th        1st        2004
Olga Firsova (1998-00)        New York Liberty    \13th        1st        2000
Shanele Stires (1993-95)*    Minnesota Lynx        56th        4th        2000

*Previously played for the ABL's Columbus Quest

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