Why great things lie ahead for Chicago Sky's newest draft pick
It would seem that great things are ahead for new Chicago Sky draft pick Katie Lou Samuelson. Emphasis on the "head."
Samuelson, a star forward from Connecticut who was picked with the No. 4 overall pick by the Sky in Wednesday's WNBA Draft, already is in good company.
She and WNBA superstar Diana Taurasi, arguably the best women's basketball player of all time and also a UConn great, are seemingly the only two people in the Twitter-verse who have a following on Twitter ... for their buns.
Yep, Taurasi, who always plays with that iconic tight bun atop her head, has an unofficial Twitter account for her bun (@DT3sBun). And Samuelson, who plays with a messy bun (note: there is a difference between the tight bun and the messy bun) atop her head, also has her own unofficial Twitter account dedicated to her bun (@33KLSBun).
"I've seen that," the 6-foot-3 Samuelson said with a laugh when I asked her about her blonde bun's personal Twitter account. "I'm not sure who started it, but it's pretty funny."
Fun and Twitter games aside, Samuelson, who goes by 'Lou,' is ready to get down to some serious business in Chicago, a city that she's been to only once, when she was a senior in high school and played in the 2015 McDonald's all-American basketball game at the United Center.
Samuelson, a California native, just like Taurasi, went on to become one of the best players in Connecticut's storied history. She is a three-time all-American and she helped Connecticut to four Final Fours over her career, and to the national championship in 2016.
With 2,342 career points, and a career scoring average of 16.7 points per game, Samuelson led Connecticut to a 145-5 record over her four years.
New Chicago Sky head coach and general manager James Wade thinks that Samuelson will fit right into the WNBA with her rare combination of size and long-range shooting ability.
Samuelson hit 382 of 920 3-pointers at Connecticut for a 42 percent career clip.
"We feel really good about Katie Lou because we had her high on our board for a very long time," Wade told me moments after drafting Samuelson. "She's a player we knew could help make our team better. We really like the fact that she can space the floor, probably better than anyone coming into the league in a really long time. She can shoot so well from deep, and she is smart and long and she is really going to force other teams to make tough decisions about how to defend not only her but the rest of our players.
"We also like the fact that Katie Lou is a winner. She won't shy away from the big moments. You can't teach that."
Speaking of teaching, Samuelson says that she learned her silky smooth shooting technique from her dad, Jon, who played basketball at Cal State Fullerton and then professionally in Europe.
Shooting practice was a family affair as older sisters Bonnie and Karlie also had the basketball bug. They both played at Stanford and now Karlie plays for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.
Mom Karen had skills, too. She was on the all-England Netball Team.
"We shot every single day, mostly at the local community center," Samuelson said of her workouts with her dad and sisters. "We'd try to get up at least 250 shots a day.
"I think my ability to shoot the ball with my height is what makes me a little different than a lot of players."
That, and her messy, social media-savvy bun.
More and more UConn in the Chi: Samuelson becomes the third Connecticut player on the current Chicago Sky roster.
The rookie joins 5-foot-11 forward Gabby Williams, the fourth pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, and 6-foot-5 veteran center Stefanie Dolson.
Williams had a strong start to her WNBA career, starting 30 of 34 games for the Sky last summer and averaging 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, Dolson is also a starter for the Sky. After three years in Washington, Dolson came to Chicago in 2017 and will be starting her third season with the Sky. She's started 58 of 60 games in her career with the Sky and had the best season of her career in 2017 when she averaged 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
On draft night, Williams, who played with Samuelson for three years at Connecticut, tweeted, in all caps: "I could not be happier right now!!!!!! Loooouuuuu
Round 2: Like Samuelson, who brings her UConn street cred to the Sky, second-round pick Chloe Jackson is also a winner at an elite level.
Jackson, taken by the Sky with the No. 3 pick in the second round, was the starting point guard for Baylor, which won the NCAA national championship last weekend.
Jackson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after hitting the game-winning shot with 3.9 seconds to play to take down Notre Dame for the title. She finished with 26 points in that game.
"Chloe is a real winner and now we have another point guard who can play at WNBA speed," Sky head coach and GM James Wade said. "We have very good point guards already, but I want to be really competitive at that spot. I am really excited."
Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw