INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fever had one of its biggest draft hauls in franchise history, selecting first-team All-America guards Kelsey Mitchell and Victoria Vivians with the No. 2 and No. 8 overall selections, followed by local Big Ten forward Stephanie Mavunga with the 14th pick of the 2018 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm.
While Mitchell and Mavunga both starred at Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, Vivians comes to Indiana two weeks after leading Mississippi State to the national championship game in Columbus.
A recent recipient of the Dawn Staley Award given to the most outstanding college guard in the country, the 5-8 Mitchell was the nation’s third-leading scorer with 24.3 points per game, while dishing a career-high 148 assists and committing a career-low 78 turnovers. She shot 44.8 percent from the floor and 40.2 percent from 3-point range — both figures also the best of her career.
Mitchell finished her career at OSU as the NCAA’s second-leading all-time scorer with 3,402 career points. Her 497 career 3-pointers are the most in NCAA history. The first four-time All-American in school history, she is one of just four players in NCAA history with more than 3,000 points and 500 assists.
Mitchell and Vivians both are 40 percent 3-point shooters who averaged double-figure scoring throughout their college careers.
Vivians, a big guard at 6-1, led MSU to the Final Four in consecutive years, averaging 19.8 points and 6.1 rebounds, with 69 3-point field goals as a senior. A tough perimeter defender who averaged 17.0 points over her career, she was a first-team All-American by USA Today and the Associated Press.
“We feel really, really good about our three players,” said Fever Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman. “I’ve always felt that you need good guards to win, and we got two really good ones. Obviously, they both can score, but there’s so much more to them than just scoring. Kelsey’s real dynamic. She shoots 40 percent from 3-point range, but you have to remember how many of those shots she has had to create for herself. And Victoria, she’s got such great length and does so many things. She’s a great defender and she’s a big-time player who has seen some really big moments.”
“We really like Mavunga, too. You’ve got to have those bigs. She can rebound and she can play hungry and physical in the post. We knew we had the chance to land three really good players.”
While Vivians helped the 37-2 Bulldogs to within seconds of a national championship, Mitchell and Mavunga led OSU to a 28-7 record last season and Big Ten regular season and tournament championships. Mitchell earned Most Outstanding Player accolades at this year’s Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mavunga, who played her first two college seasons at North Carolina, posted a monster semifinal game with 26 points and a Big Ten-record 21 rebounds. Mitchell and Mavunga led the Buckeyes to a pair of conference titles and back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Born in Zaire and a prep standout at nearby Brownsburg High School in suburban Indianapolis, Mavunga closed her college career with a senior double-double average of 16.6 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. She set a school record with 26 rebounds against Stanford.
A native of Cincinnati, Mitchell is the second Staley Award winner to be drafted by the Fever, joining Tiffany Mitchell (no relation) in 2015; and the first Ohio State player ever drafted by Indiana. Mavunga, a former Indiana Miss Basketball selected 12 picks later, is Indiana’s second Buckeye. Ironically, Mavunga’s sister-in-law, shooting guard Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga, has been on the Indiana roster since 2011.
Mitchell was the highest pick in club history, matching the No. 2 selection of Tan White in 2005. Vivians joins White as the only players Indiana has ever drafted from Mississippi State.
WNBA training camps begin Sunday, April 29.