May 16, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- A trio of former Georgia Lady Bulldogs open play in the 2014 WNBA season this weekend, including 27-year-old "rookie" Angel Robinson. The league season schedule begins with five games on Friday. Robinson opens her WNBA career with the Seattle Storm, while former Lady Bulldogs Kara Braxton and Jasmine Hassell will play for New York and Indiana, respectively.
In addition, Naismith Hall of Famer Teresa Edwards begins her first season as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Dream. Previously, Edwards served as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Lynx and the Tulsa Shock and as interim head coach of Shock in 2011.
Robinson becomes the 25th Georgia Lady Bulldog to play in the WNBA, four years after she was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks.
With Robinson joining the Storm, all 20 Georgia players drafted by WNBA teams have gone on to secure regular-season roster spots in the league. In addition, five other Lady Bulldogs played in the WNBA after originally signing as free agents.
"It's a really cool accomplishment to me that every player we have ever had drafted has earned a spot on a WNBA roster," head coach Andy Landers said. "That is very unique. We very well may be the only program in the country that can make that claim. That's a great testament to the work ethic and desire of those players as they continue to represent Georgia Basketball at the next level."
Robinson wrapped up her collegiate career at Georgia in 2010; however, an injury prevented her from having a realistic chance of making the Sparks' roster that season. Since then, the Marietta High School product has played overseas in Portugal, France and Spain. Robinson is coming off a stellar season with Perfumerias in Salamanca, Spain. She was named Most Valuable Player of the Copa del Reina Championship. Robinson averaged 18.0 ppg and 9.1 rpg while leading Perfumerias to a regular-season title and a runner-up finish in Spain's LFB playoffs. In Euroleague play, Robinson averaged 15.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg.
"It's always exciting to see your former players suit up at the professional level, particularly when that's in the WNBA. But to see one suit up for the first time as a 27 year old is really an extra special treat," Landers said. "It's a testament to Angel Robinson that she's displayed the abilities to continue to develop…fight through the injuries…and become a player that can compete at the next level. I'm extremely happy and proud of her in that regard."
Braxton begins her ninth season overall in the league. She was drafted by the Detroit in 2005, where she helped the Shock to the 2006 and 2008 WNBA Championships and was voted as a starter for the 2007 WNBA All-Star game. Braxton also has played for Phoenix and Tulsa during her professional career, as well as overseas in Italy, Poland and Turkey.
"I'm really pleased that Kara Braxton has become one of the grizzled veterans of the league and continues to perform at a high level," Landers said.
Hassell is in her second season with the Indiana. She was selected by the Fever in the second round of last year's draft after leading Georgia to the "Elite Eight" of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Hassell was released by the Fever last season, but was then signed by Seattle and played four games with the Storm before again being released. She was resigned by the Fever and remained with the team throughout its playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals. Hassell began the 2013-14 European season in Israel before transferring to play for Rivas Ecoplis of Madrid, Spain. She helped Rivas Ecoplis defeat Robinson's Perfurmerias squad to win Spain's LFB Playoffs.
"It's no surprise with Hassell," Landers said. "She just keeps getting in done in a quiet workman-type way."
Jasmine James, Hassell's former classmate at Georgia, is not expected to play in the WNBA this summer after suffering a torn ACL while playing for Sao Jose in Brazil this winter. James was averaging 11.1 ppg when her injury occurred in February.
All told, 38 Lady Bulldogs have gone on to play basketball professionally during Andy Landers' 35 seasons at the University of Georgia.