Sparks selects Burrell ninth in WNBA Draft

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NEW YORK CITY — Rae Burrel became Tennessee’s 44th women’s basketball player, including the second of three years Kellie Harper era, to be taken in the WNBA Draft, with the 6-foot-1 guard/forward going to the Los Angeles Sparks with the No. 9 first-round pick.

Burrell, who was one of 12 players invited to the league’s first in-person draft since 2019, became Lady Vol’s 19th first-round selection of all time. She and former Big Orange bandmate Rennia Daviswho also went to No. 9 in 2021 at the Minnesota Lynx, became the first UT player to be picked in the first round in consecutive seasons since Loree Moore and Tye’sha Fluker in 2005 and 2006.

Burrell is the second Lady Vol to be picked with a No. 9 pick and the sixth UT player to be drafted by the Sparks. She follows Daedra Charles (1st Rd., 8th, Elite Draft, 1997), Sidney Spencer (2nd Rd., 25th, 2007), Candace Parker (1st Rd., 1st, 2008), Shannon Bobbitt (2nd, 15th, 2008) and Cierra Burdick (2nd, 14th, 2015).

The event, broadcast live by ESPN, took place at Spring Studios. This acclaimed venue is located in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York and hosts iconic events such as Fashion Week and the Tribeca Film Festival. Burrell and Harper’s family were among those in attendance to support the Lady Vol star.

Rae Burrel is a physically gifted player with a high drive who has worked very hard to get into position to be selected in the WNBA draft,” Harper said. “She is an intense competitor who had to overcome an unfortunate injury suffered at the start of his senior season. We are proud of Rae’s development during her time at Tennessee and look forward to seeing her continue to flourish in her professional career.”

A Las Vegas native, Burrell overcame an early-season leg injury to finish his Tennessee career ranked 36th all-time with 1,131 points. She fell in the opener against Southern Illinois and missed the next 12 games. She bounced back to play in 21 more games, starting 12 of them, including the last eight. She finished the season at 12.3 points per game. and 3.9 rpg., but it picked up momentum going down the stretch, totaling 16.6 ppg., 5.6 rpg. and 3.2 apg. in his last five contests, including SEC and NCAA tournaments.

After scoring a season-high 22 points and six rebounds against No. 4/4 Louisville in the NCAA Sweet 16. Burrell was named to the Wichita Area All-Tournament Team. Prior to her injury, she was on preseason watch lists for the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award, and Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy and was projected as a preseason All-American and First-Team All-American pick. DRY. Burrell was a second-team All-SEC pick in 2020-21 averaging 16.8 points per game. and 4.6 rpg.

For his career, Burrell has played 110 games for the Big Orange, starting 47 of them and getting the go-ahead 38 times over the past two seasons. She finished her time at UT averaging 10.3 points and 4.2 rebounds, shooting 40.2 percent from the field and improving her free throw shooting by 57 and 60 percent her first two seasons to 83 and 79 at course of the last two.

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