Gabby Williams is usually very sure of herself on the basketball court and off of it.
But Thursday was different. The University of Connecticut senior forward had no control over her future as she attended the WNBA Draft at Nike Headquarters in New York.
"I was nervous, I was anxious, I just wanted it to be here," Williams said. "You don't know what city you're going to. You don't know who your teammates are. It's a scary thing."
At least the Sparks, Nevada, native did not have to wait long as she was taken with the fourth pick overall by the Chicago Sky.
She was one of three Huskies taken in the first round. Forward Azura Stevens went to the Dallas Wings with the No. 6 overall pick, while guard Kia Nurse went to the New York Liberty with the No. 10 overall choice.
"That just says so much about the program that Coach (Geno Auriemma) and CD (associate head coach Chris Dailey) have built," Williams said. "People want UConn players because they know how to develop us. That's why I went to UConn -- so I could develop and be pushed every day."
South Carolina forward A'ja Wilson, the consensus national Player of the Year, went No. 1 as expected to the Las Vegas Aces. The Indiana Fever followed by taking Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell. The Sky, who finished 12-22 a year ago and missed the playoffs, had the next two picks and took former Tennessee wing Diamond DeShields third before selecting Williams at No. 4. It's the first time the 12-year-old franchise has taken a UConn player.
She was asked if she thought she would be a lottery pick.
"I've been getting that question a lot so it sounds like everyone else is surprised," Williams said with a laugh. "I had zero expectations coming in. I have played every scenario in my head, what could go right, what could go wrong. I just tried to keep an open mind about it.
"I'm just really excited right now. My heart was pounding the entire day, the entire week. There's a big sense of relief."
In Chicago, Williams will join former UConn center and two-time WNBA All-Star Stefanie Dolson.
The two-time All-American averaged 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.4 steals as a senior and was the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Albany Regional. Considered to be one of the top defenders in the country, she and Maya Moore are the only UConn players to finish with 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists, 300 steals, and 100 blocked shots. She recorded one of the five triple-doubles in Huskies' history.
The Seattle Storm took UCLA point guard Jordin Canada before the Wings stepped up to select Stevens, who gave up her final year of college eligibility to enter the draft.
"It was a hard decision," Stevens said. "It's been an amazing ride from the minute I stepped on campus. It was overwhelming how much I enjoyed being there, being part of the program with my teammates and coaches. It was hard to leave that all behind.
"But it was exciting to see the opportunities opening up and begin this new chapter."
The Wings reached the playoffs with a 16-18 record last summer. In Dallas, Stevens will join former UConn guard Saniya Chong, who made last year's roster after being taken in the third round of the 2017 draft. Stevens sat out due to NCAA transfer rules during Chong's senior year.
Stevens averaged 14.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.1 blocked shots in her only season playing for the Huskies after spending her first two years at Duke. She was named the American Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year and the Sixth Man Award winner, as well as the Most Outstanding Player of the AAC tournament. She had 19 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks in the NCAA Final Four overtime loss to Notre Dame.
"It was interesting to see how everything would shake out," Stevens said. "I'm definitely very excited, ready to get down to Dallas and play and be a part of that nucleus."
With their third-round pick, the Wings selected former UConn center Natalie Butler, who used her final season of eligibility at George Mason University and was the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year while leading the country in rebounds and double-doubles.
The Washington Mystics chose Texas guard Ariel Atkins with the overall No. 7 pick and the Fever used their second choice of the first round to take Mississippi State guard Victoria Vivians.
With the ninth pick, the Connecticut Sun selected Duke guard Lexie Brown. According to Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller, his choices were down to Brown and Nurse when it came his turn to pick. The Nurse family has a history with Miller, who coached Nurse's older sister, Tamika, at Bowling Green and tried to recruit Kia to Indiana University five years ago.
"We thought that we might have a choice between Brown and Nurse and we've debated that for weeks," Miller said. "It did play out that way and we're excited to bring Lexie into our family. Ultimately you have to take the emotions out of it and take what you need and what's best for the organization. We decided to go the 1-2 route rather than the 2-3, it can't be more simply stated than that. We looked at Kia more as a 2-3.
"I know some people are going to be disappointed (by the Sun not taking a UConn player). They don't realize how hard it is not to take a family that I truly care about, someone I would have given my left arm to coach in college, someone I would do anything for. But again I have to take that emotion out of it. With us being able to acquire Bria Holmes in a trade earlier in the day, the obvious choice for us was Lexie Brown."
Nurse didn't stay on the board long as the Liberty snatched her up with the next selection.
"In Kia Nurse we got a very solid, big guard who can score and comes from a great program," New York first-year coach Katie Smith said.
"I think this is a great fit for me in a place that's exciting," Nurse said. "I love the city and I'm excited to get back there. I hope offensively and defensively I can play a role and hopefully make an impact."
Nurse joins Tina Charles, Bria Hartley, Kiah Stokes, and Kelly Faris as UConn products with the Liberty, who were 22-12 a season ago and won the Eastern Conference regular-season title. Stokes and Nurse were teammates on UConn's 2015 national championship team.
The Hamilton, Ontario, native averaged 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists as a senior and was the AAC and WBCA national Defensive Player of the Year. She improved her outside shot in Storrs, making 46.2 percent of her 3-point tries as a junior and 44.3 percent of her attempts as a senior.
Among those in New York supporting Nurse was her brother Darnell, a defenseman for the Edmonton Oilers who was the No. 7 overall pick by Edmonton in the 2013 NHL Draft held in Newark, New Jersey. "I was at his draft a couple of years at the Prudential Center and it was amazing to have him here," Nurse said. "My family, the five of us, are not together very often because we're always all over the player. But it was great, and a lot of fun to have him here supporting me."
It's the third time UConn has had at least three players taken in the first round. In 2002, Sue Bird (1 to Seattle), Swin Cash (2 to Detroit), Asjha Jones (4 to Washington), and Tamika Williams (6 to Minnesota) went in the first six picks. Then two years ago, Breanna Stewart (1 to Seattle), Moriah Jefferson (2 to San Antonio), and Morgan Tuck (3 to Connecticut) made history by being the first teammates taken with the first three choices in the draft.
Wrapping up the first round Thursday, the Los Angeles Sparks took Russian center Maria Vadeeva and the Phoenix Mercury selected Oregon State center Marie Gulich.