Thorburn deserves No. 7 pick

By and

Once again, a U athlete has been selected in the top 10 of a draft, but this time it was a bit of a surprise, although it really shouldn’t have been.

It’s hard to say when players of Kim Smith and Shona Thorburn’s caliber will ever play at Utah again.

The two captured several Mountain West and Utah records, won more than 100 games at the collegiate level, and put together the most impressive NCAA Tournament run in the history of Utah women’s basketball.

And although Smith was like the hull of the ship guiding the Utes to several victories, Thorburn was the rudder that kept the team going in a winning direction.

Earlier in the year, Thorburn was expected to be picked in the second or third round of the WNBA draft, but after a sensational postseason showing, she proved to be worth much more than a late-round draft pick.

After finishing 14-20 last season, the Minnesota Lynx were in desperate need of a solid shooter, as well as somebody to get that shooter the ball, and on Wednesday, they got exactly what they needed.

By picking up Simone Augustus with the No. 1 pick in the draft, the Lynx acquired a top scorer (22.7 points per game at LSU last season), and Thorburn will be the perfect point guard to complement such a great shooter.

Last season, the Lynx didn’t have any one player who could consistently set the tone on offense or spread the ball around. The team was led in assists by Kristi Harrower, who averaged just 2.8 per game.

Thorburn finished the year as the second-best passer in the nation, averaging 7.1 assists per game, so she should be an immediate answer to a Minnesota’s glaring problem.

That made Thorburn a top pick rather than a second-round pick wasn’t just her ability to pass, though, but her versatility throughout the season, especially in the postseason.

In many ways, she’s like the NBA’s Jason Kidd. She can pass, score and rebound, and she also has the ability to take over the game during crucial moments. In short, she’s a clutch player.

During the tournament, Thorburn averaged nearly a triple-double. She averaged 14.7 points, seven rebounds, and 8.3 assists in those games.

She is also reliable and tough, which is proven by the fact that she started every game of her four-year career at Utah.

Even when she was forced to leave the game with a painful ankle injury during the first half of the Utes’ Elite-Eight matchup against Maryland, she returned to the game in the second half, and she nearly lifted the Utes to a comeback over the Terrapins.

She’s a fighter, a tough competitor and a talented athlete, and she’ll be a player the Lynx will never regret spending a No. 7 pick on to help rebuild their team.