Sparks Select Burrell Ninth In WNBA Draft

NEW YORK CITY — Rae Burrell became the 44th Tennessee women’s basketball player, including the second of the three-year Kellie Harper era, to be taken in the WNBA Draft, with the 6-foot-1 guard/forward going to the Los Angeles Sparks with the No. 9 pick of the first round.
 
Burrell, who was one of only 12 players invited to the league’s first in-person draft since 2019, became the 19th all-time Lady Vol first-round selection. She and former Big Orange teammate Rennia Davis, who also went No. 9 in 2021 to the Minnesota Lynx, became the first UT players to be chosen in the first round in back-to-back seasons since Loree Moore and Tye’sha Fluker in 2005 and 2006.
 
Burrell is the second Lady Vol ever to be chosen with a No. 9 pick and the sixth UT player to be drafted by the Sparks. She follows Daedra Charles (1st Rd., 8th, Elite Draft, 1997), Sidney Spencer (2nd Rd., 25th, 2007), Candace Parker (1st Rd., 1st, 2008), Shannon Bobbitt (2nd, 15th, 2008) and Cierra Burdick (2nd, 14th, 2015).
 
The event, televised live by ESPN, was held at Spring Studios. That acclaimed venue is located in the Tribeca section of New York and the home to such iconic events as Fashion Week and The Tribeca Film Festival. Burrell’s family and Harper were among those in attendance to support the Lady Vol standout.
 
Rae Burrell is a physically-gifted player with a high motor who worked very hard to put herself in position to be selected in the WNBA Draft,” Harper said. “She is an intense competitor who had to overcome an unfortunate injury suffered early during her senior season. We’re proud of the development Rae made during her time at Tennessee and look forward to watching her continue to blossom in her professional career.”
 
A native of Las Vegas, Burrell overcame an early-season leg injury to finish her career at Tennessee ranked No. 36 in all-time scoring with 1,131 points. She went down in the opener vs. Southern Illinois and missed the next 12 contests. She bounced back to play in 21 additional games, starting 12 of them including the last eight. She ended the season at 12.3 ppg. and 3.9 rpg., but she gained momentum heading down the stretch, tallying 16.6 ppg., 5.6 rpg. and 3.2 apg. over her last five contests, including the SEC and NCAA Tournaments.
 
After scoring a season-high 22 points and pulling down six rebounds vs. No. 4/4 Louisville in the NCAA Sweet 16. Burrell was named to the Wichita Region All-Tournament Team. Prior to her injury, she had been on preseason watch lists for the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy and projected as a preseason All-American and first-team All-SEC pick. Burrell was a second-team All-SEC pick in 2020-21 while averaging 16.8 ppg. and 4.6 rpg.
 
For her career, Burrell played in 110 games for the Big Orange, starting 47 of them and getting the nod 38 times over the past two seasons. She finished her time at UT with averages of 10.3 points and 4.2 rebounds, shooting 40.2 percent from the field and improving her free-throw shooting from 57 and 60 percent her first two seasons to 83 and 79 over the final two.

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