To Geno Auriemma, it isn't what number pick in the WNBA Draft one of his University of Connecticut players is that determines whether they'll have an opportunity to be successful. It's about what team they end up with.
When Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was taken by the Seattle Storm with the third overall pick and Kiah Stokes was selected by the New York Liberty with the 11th overall pick -- making them the 15th and 16th Huskies chosen in the first round -- in last month's draft, Auriemma was excited for them.
"I think they both ended up in good spots," Auriemma said. "K is in with a young coach who's trying to build a program. Kiah's in with a team that she can do the things that she does. I think Kiah and K can end up being very successful."
Mosqueda-Lewis, the NCAA's all-time leader in 3-point baskets, was Seattle's second selection of the night. The Storm took Notre Dame junior guard Jewell Loyd with the overall No. 1 pick.
Seattle has a first-year head coach in Jenny Boucek but a veteran and future Hall of Famer at point guard in Sue Bird. The Storm also has another former UConn guard Renee Montgomery, who they acquired from the Connecticut Sun in the trade that also sent Seattle the pick they used to take Mosqueda-Lewis.
"They have a great point guard in Sue that will help and a dynamic player like Jewell," Auriemma said. "Hopefully the two of them can grow together alongside Sue. They're all different as people and players as I think that's good. So, it's a great spot for K."
Mosqueda-Lewis' former UConn teammate Bria Hartley, who was a member of the 2014 WNBA all-rookie team with the Washington Mystics, believes Mosqueda-Lewis will answer the questions that surround her game, namely on the defensive side.
"Defense is something that every single player has to work on," Hartley said. "Kaleena will do that and playing against great players will help her. Offensively, she doesn't have to be a highlight reel. She needs to get open and make shots. There are enough playmakers around her there like Sue, Renee, Jewell, that will get her open shots. And having a great leader like Sue around will make the transition easier for her."
Stokes set a single-season record for blocked shots as a senior at UConn and that defensive presence made her appealing to the Liberty, who traded guard Anna Cruz to Minnesota along with exchange of draft picks, to move up in the draft to take the Marion, Iowa, native. With her, offense is the question mark.
New York's starting center is former UConn standout Tina Charles.
"Tina will draw a lot of the attention there," Auriemma said. "So Kiah doesn't have to go in and be that franchise-type player. She can learn and grow and having a player like Tina around will help her do that.
The Liberty open the regular season June 5 when they host the Atlanta Dream. Seattle's first game is June 6 when it entertains Los Angeles.