Sacramento drafts Warburton in WNBA

By Christopher Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

Another year, another dream realized.

Last season, star point guard Leilani Mitchell was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury after she dominated the Mountain West Conference for one season.

Morgan Warburton was the belle of the ball for four years at the U and it paid off.

The senior from Helper was taken in the third round of the 2009 WNBA Draft by the Sacramento Monarchs on the 33rd overall pick.

The All-American guard, who was named the MWC Player of the Year for 2009, knows this is an opportunity that isn’t presented every day to any random player8212;and she’s ready to take advantage of it.

“It was overwhelming when I saw my name,” Warburton said in a statement. “At first, I didn’t believe it8212;I am in shock. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, so being able to get a shot at it is great. I am hoping I can make the best of it. It’s been pretty fun so far.”

Utah’s fourth all-time scorer (1,886 points) shattered a slew of records during her time at the U.

Warburton broke nearly every free-throw shooting category in the record books as she set the record for career-best percentage (88.3 percent), including career free throws with 439 and free throws made in a season with 161.

She also scored in double figures for 66 consecutive games8212;an MWC record.

Warburton was given honorable mention All-American honors by The Associated Press and the Women’s Basketball Coaching Association this season and is the 20th player in Utah history to eclipse 1,000 points scored.

Elaine Elliott, who has been Utah’s head coach since 1983, has coached her fair share of WNBA players and knows that Warburton will take on the next challenge in her basketball career.

“This is so awesome for her,” Elliott said. “It’s great for her and our program and our league. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving kid and I wish her the best.”

Warburton is the fourth Ute to be drafted into the WNBA alongside the likes of former teammates Mitchell, Kim Smith and Shona Thorburn.

Smith was drafted by the Monarchs in the 2006, going No. 13, and Thorburn was taken by the Minnesota Lynx with the No. 7 selection in the same year.

Mitchell, who was originally drafted by Phoenix last season, plays for the New York Liberty.

As Warburton, one of the most recognizable and likeable players in the history of the program, leaves, the next step to the next level will be difficult, but any time a team can scoop up an average of 18.5 points per game, alongside 6.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists in the third round, you know you’re getting a competitor.

At 5 feet 11 inches, the two-guard led the Utes in defensive rebounding with 185 boards on the season.

Elliott agrees that her All-American has the know-how.

“It’s a tough year to make the WNBA, so she’s getting herself ready and she will give it a good shot,” Elliott said.

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Tyler Cobb

Morgan Warburton was the 33rd overall pick by the Sacramento Monarchs during the 2009 WNBA Draft.