And now Hayes, the No. 14 pick overall, will begin her professional career as a member of the Atlanta Dream.
Most pre-draft prognostications had Hayes penciled in for the later half of first round. That didn't happen. So Hayes had to wait a little longer than expected, but that didn't seem to bother her a bit.
"Being drafted – period - means a lot," Hayes said. "This team has a great player in Angel [McCouthtry] and I am hoping to come in and be a good complimentary player. I was used to being the role player at Connecticut when I came my freshman year and they had a bunch of stars in place.
The Lakeland, Fla., native said being drafted by Atlanta was almost like "coming home."
Said Hayes:"Being a professional woman is different and going from the college to the pros there is a lot of stuff going on that doesn't involve basketball like media and trying to get your name out there. That is definitely going to be a big difference for me."
The Atlanta Dream has reached the WNBA Finals the past two season. McCoughtry, a former All-American at Louisville, is a high scoring forward who is expected to be part of Geno Aueriemma's U.S. Women's Olympic Team at the London Games 2012.
Hayes told reporters she has hired Clifford Smith as her agents.
She is the 24th UConn player selected in WNBA Draft since the event began in 1997.
Hayes won two national championships, played in four Final Fours, was a two-time, All-Big East first team member and was named Associated Press third team All-American as a senior. She is coming off her best season in a UConn uniform, averaging 14.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assista and 2.3 steals.
"When I was younger, I wasn't really thinking about [the WNBA]," Hayes said. "I kind of knew about it but it wasn't really in my mind to go. I started late playing and I was kind of an under-the-radar type of player my whole life. So it really didn't cross my mind that I was going to make it here.
"And when I was younger, I really didn't think I would be up for a scholarship to go to college to be honest. The WNBA generally was not in any mind but now that I'm here, it feels great."
Rebecca Lobo, now an ESPN analyst, was the trailblazer into the WNBA from UConn's program. That was back in 1997, but Lobo thinks Hayes has what it takes to make it in the league today.
"I think her experience being a complementary player is a good thing because that's what she's going to be is a complementary player," Lobo said. "She has a lot of things you look for in a pro: She has got good size and she can get to the free throw line. She can pass the ball. She can rebound the ball. She's a high-percentage field goal shooter and three-point shooter.
"You know, I think Tiffany is going to be a really good pro and the one criticism that she might have gotten at Connecticut is sometimes in big games, she's had some struggles and in the Final Four she had some struggles. Well you know she's not going to need to carry a team in the WNBA and not going to need to be called upon to hit the big shot at the end of the game. There will be other players to do that. I think she's going to be a really good pro."