Ervin drafted by Connecticut Sun in the third round

FAYETTEVILLE – The Connecticut Sun selected former University of Arkansas post player Lauren Ervin in the third round of the Women’s NBA draft in Tampa, Fla. Ervin became the 37th pick of the WNBA draft in the third round in spite of missing virtually the entire Southeastern Conference season this spring with a knee injury. “I’m more than excited,” Ervin said. “Especially since I was not able to play the major part of the season and to be picked by a great team, I’m speechless.” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen had said for weeks that he believed one of the WNBA teams would make a move to protect his leading scorer for next year. “We’re glad for Lauren that coaches’ in the WNBA see her potential,” Collen said. “She has been a great player in college, but she has got the kind of skills that allow her to continue her playing days for years to come.” Ervin averaged 16 ppg and 11 rpg as a senior for Arkansas before tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in the Southeastern Conference opener against LSU. She was the MVP of the Blue Sky Classic at Dartmouth and all-tournament at the UTSA Thanksgiving Tournament. Conncticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault made a similar move last season. “We were trying to address specific needs with this draft,” Thibault said on the WNBA Draft show. “Lauren Ervin was just a player for the future. We know she won’t play this year, but she can get healthy and play in Europe. If she had been healthy, she’d have been a top 15 choice.” Ervin is in Tampa attending the pre-WNBA Draft camp and meetings. “I met with teams on Sunday,” Ervin said. “My agent and I were hoping we could find a coach that would invest in me, and they did and they proved it. I’m just proud to be part of their program.” For the Lady Razorbacks, Ervin is the fifth player drafted by the WNBA. By joining the Sun roster, she is one of two former Lady’Backs in the league. Shameka Christon begins her fifth season in the league, all with the New York Liberty. “Having Lauren drafted says a lot about our program and the progress we’ve made in just one year here at Arkansas,” Collen said. Ervin finished her Arkansas career averaging 14.2 ppg and 10.8 rpg, starting every game of her 46-game career. She breaks the University record for career rebounding in her short 46-game career, bettering Shelly Wallace’s 8.5 per game, and is the only player to average a double-double for her career. Her scoring average ranks eighth all-time. A first-team preseason all-SEC selection, Ervin was named SEC player of the week twice in December of her senior year. Ervin led Arkansas to a school-record 15-0 start her senior season. Both her junior and senior seasons, Arkansas reached the Associated Press top 25. A JUCO transfer from Mount San Antonio College in California, Ervin arrived at Arkansas as the California JUCO player of the year. In spite of her injury, she posted the best all-around two-year career in Arkansas history. Her 495 rebounds ranks 19th all-time at Arkansas and her 103 blocked shots stands at sixth, but both marks are the best among any two-year players. Her 651 points is 34th overall, and third among two-year players for the Lady’Backs. Ervin is fifth all-time in field goal percentage with 55.3%. The previous draft picks of the Lady’Backs start with Christy Smith in the WNBA draft of 1998. Smith was a second-round pick of the Charlotte Sting, and played two seasons in the league before injury shortened her pro career. Smith led the Sting to the WNBA Playoffs months after taking Arkansas to the 1998 Final Four.Former Lady’Back Shaka Massey was drafted out of Louisiana Tech in 2000 by the Sting in the second round. Pine Bluff, Ark., native Dana Cherry was also picked by the Charlotte Sting in 2003. Christon broke the Sting string with her selection in 2004 by the Liberty as the fifth player overall. Arkansas’ WNBA roster includes free agent Wendi Willits, who made the 2001 Los Angeles Sparks for their WNBA championship season. The Lady’Backs went 17-13 this season under Collen. Arkansas signed five players in the fall that ranked top 25 by national recruiting services, and are expected to sign more players in the spring signing period.