UConn's Dolson, Hartley wind up together in Washington

UConn's Bria Hartley, left, and Stefanie Dolson, share a laugh as they are interviewed by ESPN during Monday's WNBA Draft at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Mohegan — Stefanie Dolson walked back into the catacombs of Mohegan Sun Arena and kept her ears open, hoping to hear that Bria Hartley, her UConn running partner, would be selected after her at the WNBA Draft.

Dolson got her wish and more.

Dolson went sixth overall to the Washington Mystics and Hartley was taken No. 7 by the Seattle Storm.

Washington later acquired Hartley and forward Tianna Hawkins from Seattle in exchange for forward Crystal Langhorne, reuniting the UConn duo.

"I was in the hallway," said Dolson, who helped UConn to back-to-back national championships the last two seasons. "Then I heard the uproar and I was like, 'that had to be Bria.' So I was really excited that she could go number seven. … It's going to be so wonderful to play with Bria again after playing for so long with her."

Hartley said: "We've grown together (at UConn). We were freshmen together and now we are going to the pros together."

Mystics coach Mike Thibault was looking for as much talent as possible after wringing a 17-17 finish out of his team in his first season. Washington also had one of the league's youngest rosters last year.

Dolson, a 6-foot-5 center, gives Washington some interior help. She averaged 12.5 points and 9.3 rebounds her senior season.

"You don't know what to expect coming into this," Dolson said. "There are so many things unknown. To go sixth is a dream, something that I definitely never saw coming."

"I'm very excited. He's an awesome coach, an awesome guy. I think we have a lot of chemistry. I think I can fit in really well with this team. They're a high-energy team. I'm excited to go play."

Dolson will be paired up with center Kia Vaughn, who Thibault traded for last season.

"We're thrilled because she fits who we want our players to be," Thibault said. "We needed a post to compliment Kia Vaughn who can play inside-or-outside and can pass — she's a good outlet passer to start the break. And she's a high-energy player. We're trying to fill our locker room with those kind of players."

Hartley, a 5-8 guard, provides depth at that position. Washington acquired guard Kara Lawson from Connecticut in a March trade, but she missed all but nine games last season to injury.

Second-year guard Tayler Hill, the fourth overall pick in last season's draft, is expecting her first child in May. She is expected to return at some point this season.

"We have Hill coming back from pregnancy, so she's still an unknown," Thibault said. "Kara is coming off a knee injury. (Hartley is) insurance. Kara is probably only going to play a few more years. Hartley gives us a player for the long-term, and I don't think you can have enough depth at that position.

"The fact that she can play both (guard) positions and make shots, I just felt that she was a great energy and chemistry player, too, and that it was a perfect fit. Look at what she did at UConn. ... She knows how to win."

n.griffen@theday.com

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