Rutgers Women’s Basketball
Long journey for former Rutgers star Epiphanny Prince pays off with 4th overall pick in WNBA Draft
April 08, 2010, 9:36PM
William Perlman/The Star-LedgerFormer Rutgers star Epiphanny Prince’s next stop will be the Chicago Sky of the WNBA.
It took two teams and 10 months to get here, to the point where Epiphanny Prince could return to the United States and play professional basketball. She gambled to improve her chances for this day.
The risk paid off.
“I’m just relieved that I was able to make my family proud, and that I was able to fulfill my dream,” said Prince, her voice crackling from a speaker phone inside the NBA Entertainment Studios in Secaucus, where the Chicago Sky selected her with the fourth pick of the WNBA Draft yesterday afternoon.
“I don’t think it hit me totally yet, that this is really happening to me. And I’m excited, but still a little bit nervous and humble. I just want to stay level-headed about what’s going on.”
In the third round, the Los Angeles Sparks selected Rutgers center Rashidat Junaid. The Scarlet Knights’ leading scorer, shooting guard Brittany Ray, was not selected.
Prince watched the draft from her apartment in Adana, Turkey, where she plays for Botas-Spor. Seven time zones away, her parents, Kathy and Jerry, watched inside the studio.
After the pick, Jerry shook his head. He looked stunned.
“It’s amazing, man,” he said. “I’m speechless.”
Last June, Prince dropped her final year of eligibility to play overseas. She was a prolific scorer in college, the star of a Sweet 16 team in 2009. But she wanted to earn money and develop her game. Her mother said the family spent months discussing their options.
In the end, Prince elected to go abroad. “She’s a grown woman now,” Kathy said. “So she makes her own decisions.”
The WNBA’s age limitations prevented her from entering last year’s draft. But Prince found work overseas. For two months she played with Spartak Moscow, which features WNBA star Diana Taurasi. But after the team’s owner was killed in November, Prince left for the team in Turkey. She rotates between point guard and shooting guard there, and averages 19 points per game. She says she has a better grasp of how to run the point now.
“I think that playing over here, it helped my game,” Prince said. “And it helped me to understand my game.”
She will not return to the States alone. In Turkey, she plays with Courtney Paris, a center from the University of Oklahoma who joined the Sky earlier this year. They watched the draft together yesterday.
“She was making jokes that she can bully me now when we get there,” Prince said. “We’re just happy to be able to play together.”