Four Lady Vols drafted by WNBA

Shekinna Stricklen's biggest concern wasn't which team was going to pick her – Seattle had shown interest all season – but being able to maneuver in high heels. The versatile forward was one of four Tennessee players taken in the WNBA draft, including a surprise pick of former Lady Vol Kelley Cain.

Shekinna Stricklen was the first Tennessee player to be taken off the draft board Monday when Seattle selected the 6'2 guard/forward/post at the No. 2 spot.

Glory Johnson was the next Lady Vol to take center stage as Tulsa selected the 6'3 post with the No. 4 pick.

The surprise of the day came at No. 7 when New York took Kelley Cain. The 6'6 center is now playing in Turkey and made herself available for the 2012 draft.

Vicki Baugh, a fifth-year player who battled back from two ACL surgeries, was the first pick in the third round, No. 25 overall, and will join Johnson in Tulsa.

Baugh, who wasn't even sure if she would be drafted, didn't mind waiting to hear her name called.

"The only thing I knew to expect was somewhere one through 36 my name would be called," Baugh said. "I am the type of person I don't care when it's going to be called. I just know I am in a position a lot of people are not in, and I am fully appreciative of being here and just being a part of it.

"I was so happy when I heard my name called. I didn't care who it was or when it was."

Baugh also was happy when she heard the name of Cain announced at the draft.

"Kelley informed me that she was going to be a part of the draft," Baugh said. "Right then I knew that someone is going to get lucky because Kelley Cain is a tremendous player.

"I am just so happy for Kelley because we both went through some crucial injuries together and didn't know if we wanted to play on. Seeing Kelley selected was great. I think it's a great fit for her."

Cain had declared for the draft and her agent had heard from several teams, including New York. But when the Liberty's pick was announced, it seemed to surprise everyone – including the ESPN broadcast team that didn't know where Cain was playing.

Cain opted not to play her fifth year at Tennessee because of chronic pain, especially in her left hip. She was hindered throughout her Lady Vol career by knee issues – her left kneecap had to be realigned to correct a congenital condition – she sustained several concussions and the hip went from bothersome to unbearable pain that altered her gait.

During some pre-game shoot-around sessions at Tennessee in her final year, Cain couldn't get any lift off her left side and would sit out the contest. It was not unusual after games she did play to see Cain stretched on the floor and packed in ice.

After taking six months off from physical activity, Cain, who had graduated in May of 2011, finally felt better. She decided to try the game again. She went to Turkey last January to play professional basketball for Gure Belediyes after thinking her career on the court had ended.

New York used its first round pick to take Cain. The Liberty didn't have another pick until the third round – New York took Katelan Redmon of Gonzaga – and must not have thought Cain would still be on the board by then.

"We are pleased to add Kelley and Katelan to the Liberty," General Manager and Head Coach John Whisenant said. "Kelley is a Parade All-American who excelled at Tennessee and is now playing well overseas.

"We accomplished one of our goals in acquiring a post player with size, great hands and impressive footwork."

If commentators and viewers were surprised to hear Cain's name, they had company.

"My reaction to being drafted was total elation and I was very surprised," Cain said in an interview with Inside Tennessee via Skype from Turkey, where it was 4 a.m. and she had just returned from a road game.

The good news for Cain is that she has played well in Turkey and feels physically OK.

"I am very happy that I'm still able to play," Cain said. "It's definitely by the grace of God and I am truly thankful."

Cain was just as excited to hear the news of Baugh being drafted.

"VERY happy!" Cain said via Skype. "I think I might have screamed with excitement when I found out she was drafted. We texted each other afterwards, just said how proud we are of each other."

Baugh joins Johnson in Tulsa, a team that finished 3-31 last season and had needs at every position.

"We weren't sure what Seattle was going to do but once they took Stricklen, we realized we could get Johnson at four," Tulsa President Steve Swetoha said. "She will be up and down the court, very athletic, we can't be any happier right now."

"I see her in a few years being a star in the league; we couldn't pass her up," Tulsa Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "She's got too much upside."

Kloppenburg said of Baugh, "We had her up high, too. She's a mobile big that can run, shoot from outside and rebound. We like her energy."

Baugh ended up with a good fit – very important in the WNBA – because the Shock needed post players. She also will be with a familiar face in Johnson when they report to camp.

"That made it just a little bit more exciting," Baugh said. "Glory is now a sister of mine. We are so close and became family at Tennessee. Glory makes me a better player.

"It is extremely competitive now and with an 11-man roster it's very hard to get picked on the team. Yeah, you were drafted, but you still have to make a team. I am just thankful I was part of a team that can still use some growth."

Baugh turned heads on draft day with her attire and hairstyle, a look much different than people are used to seeing on the court.

"I got a lot of compliments," Baugh said. "I was looking forward to it. It's not often that we get to dress up and have makeup artists. I was just taking in all in. Great experience and it was fun."

The day was made even better because Baugh's grandparents made the cross-country trip from Sacramento, Calif., to see their granddaughter get drafted.

"Very special," Baugh said. "My grandma was big on the WNBA and she watched it. She was the one who got me watching it. It was great that they were here. That was a present within itself.

"That made me more happy than being selected – giving my grandparents the opportunity to see more things that they can enjoy in life."

Stricklen was the first Lady Vol to land with a team, and the versatility of the do-everything player for Tennessee paid off on draft day. Stricklen played every position for the Lady Vols during her four-year career.

"I couldn't quit smiling," said Stricklen, who was joined at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., by her parents, her grandfather and two uncles. "I was very excited. I am glad they were there."

"We're excited about Shekinna," Seattle General Manager and Head Coach Brian Agler said. "Versatile player. Great skills. Her offensive abilities are WNBA-ready.

"We like her size as a perimeter player. Coming from a great program. She's excited about being here, so I think she'll be a good fit."

Stricklen's concern Monday was adjusting to the fit of her high heel shoes – the Morrilton, Ark., native is more comfortable in basketball shoes – and going through hair and makeup to get ready for the draft.

"I had been shaking all day," Stricklen said. "Knowing that everyone was watching and walking in heels. I was really praying that I did not trip and fall.

"It was truly different with the makeup, the hair and the heels, but I was enjoying it."

Even though she was drafted second, Stricklen intends to enter training camp as if she were a free agent battling for a roster spot.

"That is my mindset," Stricklen said. "My mindset is not that I am already on the team. I am not thinking that way. I have to be consistent every day in training camp, every day going in there and working hard.

"I hope I can be able to help this team."

Stricklen's hobby is fishing and she will have to do some research on what's biting in Seattle's abundant waterways.

"I'll do it to relax," said Stricklen, who noted she had fielded several questions on draft day about her love of fishing.

Johnson didn't have to wait long to hear her name, as she went just two spots after Stricklen to Tulsa.

"I am so excited," said Johnson, who also had family in attendance. "All I wished for is for God to put me in a spot that I was able make an impact and he did just that. He did it perfectly, and I will have so many great opportunities when I get there.

"It's not going to be easy. I don't plan on taking any time off. I will go back to work when I get back."

Stricklen may have been nervous while getting through wardrobe, but that might have been one of the highlights of Johnson's day.

"I was in my element, and I absolutely loved it," Johnson said. "It was an exciting day for me."

Stricklen and Johnson were already back stage going through post-draft interview and photo sessions when they got word that Cain had been drafted. Stricklen told Johnson the news across the room.

"I found out when I was in here today," Johnson said. "I was so happy. She left thinking that she didn't want to play anymore and her body was not going to be able to take it, but after sitting out, she missed the game.

"She loved the game, and I am just so happy for her."

Stricklen, Johnson and Baugh returned to Knoxville after the draft. With training camps set to open in about two weeks, they will finish school and also make arrangements to get to their draft cities as soon as possible.

Coach Pat Summitt and the team watched the draft back in Knoxville.

"What a great day in the lives of these young ladies! I couldn't be prouder as a coach," Summitt said. "It's every player's dream to go to the next level and play in the WNBA … today they have realized this dream."

Summitt's full comments on the Lady Vol selections can be read BY CLICKING HERE.

When Johnson first spoke to Inside Tennessee, Baugh had not yet been drafted and she was anxious to see what was happening on the draft floor. When Baugh called for her interview, Johnson had heard the news that Baugh also was headed to Tulsa.

"She gave me the biggest hug I think I've ever gotten from Glory," Baugh said. "She was really happy and so was I. It was really great to know I won't have to say good bye to Glory."

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