Two Noles Picked in WNBA Draft
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – Florida State Women’s Basketball point guard Leticia Romero and center Kai James became the 11th and 12th Seminoles to be selected in the WNBA Draft on Thursday night.
Romero was chosen with the 16th overall pick in the second round by the Connecticut Sun. James was selected 34th in the third round by the New York Liberty.
“I’m very excited for this opportunity,” Romero said after being drafted. “It’s been a goal of mine for quite some time to be able to play in the WNBA. I think that my experience with the Spanish National Team and playing at Florida State the last three years has helped me prepare for this next chapter.”
Romero is among the most pro-ready players in this year’s draft class. Her experience against several current WNBA stars spans over three years after beginning play with the Spanish National Team in the summer of 2014. In the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Romero helped Spain win the silver medal, the country’s first Olympic medal in women’s basketball.
Romero has some experience being in Connecticut. Her most recent trip was heading to Bristol, Conn., back in October for National Media Day, where she did a “car wash” at the ESPN headquarters. Two seasons ago, she and FSU played top-ranked UConn at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.
Entering her senior season, the native of Las Palmas, Spain along the Canary Islands was the first return Olympic medalist to women’s collegiate basketball since 1988.
The two-time All-ACC Academic Team member wanted to continue enhancing her game against elite competition at the Division I level, but also wanted to finish her education at Florida State. She will receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management this summer.
Romero leaves FSU as the ACC’s all-time leader in 3-point field goal percentage with an average of 47.7 percent in her three years with the Seminoles. She is the first three-time All-American in FSU history and ranks in the Top 10 at FSU in 3-point field goal percentage (first), free throw percentage (first – 83.7 percent), assists (tied for fourth – 388) and 3-point field goals made (10th – 112).
Those numbers came in essentially 2 ½ years on the court. She was awarded an immediate eligibility waiver by the NCAA on Dec. 23, 2014, when nearly all of non-conference play had finished up in the regular season.
Romero’s professional abilities were evident in the 2016 Summer Olympics, especially when she came off the bench to deliver 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting in just 14 minutes to defeat China. Romero has played a big role in helping her country reach No. 2 in the latest FIBA rankings.
The sharp-shooting guard had some signature moments in her senior season at FSU. She earned Paradise Jam MVP honors in wins of Winthrop, Gonzaga and Michigan, highlighted by a career-high 25 points over the Bulldogs. Romero was named both a WBCA and Associated Press All-American, and was a first-team All-American by the Senior Class for her excellence on the court, in the classroom, in the community and as a team captain.
James came to FSU as a McDonald’s All-American and played a vital role in the Seminoles reaching three consecutive NCAA Sweet 16s. In 115 career games, she shot 51 percent (178-of-349) from the floor and was an important role player for the Seminoles in her four seasons.
“I thank God Almighty for this moment,” James said afterward. “I am grateful for this opportunity. I want to thank my teammates, coaches and most of all my family for supporting me.”
The native of West Palm Beach, Fla., continues to show her potential in the post, which steadily improved in each season at Florida State. James is a 6-foot-5 center who has the right size and agility to continue being effective on both ends of the court.
Romero and James’ selections give FSU four WNBA Draft picks in the last four years. Last season, center Adut Bulgak was selected in the first round by the New York Liberty, and Natasha Howard was chosen with the fifth overall pick by the Indiana Fever in 2014.
This is the third time FSU has had multiple WNBA Draft selections. In 2001, Levys Torres was selected 37th by the Miami Sol while Brooke Wyckoff was chosen 26th by the Orlando Miracle. In 2009, three Seminoles were selected in Britany Miller (18th by Detroit Shock), Tanae Davis-Cain (37th by Detroit Shock) and Mara Freshour (38th by Seattle Storm).