Jackson selected by Connecticut in WNBA Draft

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Special to the Journal-World

Kansas center Taiyanna Jackson yells out in celebration as a teammate made a basket against Oklahoma State Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Lawrence.

Kansas super-senior Taiyanna Jackson was selected in the WNBA Draft Monday night, making her the Jayhawks’ first player picked in nine years and the first under head coach Brandon Schneider.

The 6-foot-6 center went in the second round to the Connecticut Sun at pick No. 19 overall.

The last KU player to get selected in the WNBA Draft was forward Chelsea Gardner, who went to the Indiana Fever in 2015.

In all, Jackson is the eighth Jayhawk picked for the league since it began play in 1997, although several other KU products have played in the WNBA, including Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard.

Jackson is coming off three distinguished years in Lawrence as perhaps the Jayhawks’ best-ever shot blocker. Each of her seasons included a block total higher than any prior season in KU history, and by the end of her career she had set a new career record with 301.

She broke Lisa Tate’s record in a memorable game against Houston on Feb. 8, when she scored 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while blocking a career-high nine shots.

Jackson in fact averaged a double-double throughout her time with the Jayhawks, tallying 12.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game across her 99 games played (all starts) while shooting 62% from the field.

The Big 12 Conference picked her as a first-team selection following each of her final two seasons, including unanimously after the 2022-23 campaign. She was named Women’s National Invitation Tournament MVP when the Jayhawks won that competition in 2023 and played on two NCAA Tournament teams that each lost in the second round.

The woman known as “Twin” came to Lawrence in 2021 after two seasons with Trinity Valley Community College. She is a native of East Chicago, Indiana.

Jackson was one of three KU players eligible for the draft, along with longtime teammates Zakiyah Franklin and Holly Kersgieter.

The Sun went 27-13 last WNBA season before losing in the semifinals, and also drafted French guard Leila Lacan in the first round and then Arizona guard Helena Pueyo shortly after Jackson. Connecticut also picked Abbey Hsu of Columbia with one of the last picks of the draft, uniting Jackson with a player she once took on in the WNIT title game.

The ceremony, held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, was the first WNBA Draft to allow fans since 2016.


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