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Northwestern’s Nia Coffey drafted fifth in the WNBA Draft

Nia Coffey, Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern made history Thursday as Nia Coffey was drafted fifth in the WNBA Draft by the San Antonio Stars.

The San Antonio Stars helped the Northwestern Wildcats make some program history.

The Stars selected Northwestern’s Nia Coffey with the fifth overall pick in the WNBA Draft on Thursday, making Coffey just the second Northwestern player selected in the draft and the first first-round pick in the program’s history.

It is a very well deserved honor as Coffey is likely to go down as the greatest women’s basketball player in Northwestern history. And she will continue her career with a rebuilding San Antonio team that also selected Kelsey Plum with the top pick in the Draft.

Coffey came in with the celebrated 2013 recruiting class. She helped guide Northwestern to the program’s first NCAA Tournament since 1997 with the team’s 2015 berth.

She immediately raised the bar for the program individually and for the team. It was fair to call Northwestern a disappointment for failing to reach the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons.

Coffey was far from a disappointment. She was a first-team All-Big Ten selection each of her four years at Northwestern. She averaged 17.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for her career, coming two points shy of setting the program record for career points.

At Northwestern she proved herself to be one of the most versatile post players in the country. She was as good going to the block as she was attacking from the perimeter. It is no coincidence the 6-foot-1 forward was taken this high in the draft. She is everything the league could want in a power forward.

“I definitely am able to play different positions,” Coffey told Jeff Garcia of My News 4 San Antonio. “I can play the wing, inside, I can stretch defenses, I can shoot, I can rebound, I am really good in transition by putting pressure on the defense. I just feel like we have so many weapons right now. Once we start playing together, we’re going to be very hard to guard because we are so mobile and were so fast. I am just really excited to see what this team can bring to the season this year.”

Coffey truly elevated Northwestern to a new level creating new expectations for the program. She is probably the best player in the program’s history. And it will be fun to see her play at the next level.

The only other pick from Northwestern was center Amy Jaeschke, a former McDonald’s All-American who got Northwestern to the team’s first Women’s NIT, setting the table for Coffey and her recruiting class’ emergence.

Coffey will be an extremely difficult player to replace for Northwestern, along with Ashley Deary and Christen Inman. They may not make the WNBA, but they helped push Northwestern to new heights.

Philip Rossman-Reich is a Northwestern alumnus and former contributor Lake The Posts. He also writes for Orlando Magic Daily and The Step Back.

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