It’s been an eventful week across the Cascades. Gonzaga had its all-time fifth player drafted to the WNBA in G Haiden Palmer. The Oregon State transfer was picked up by Indiana with its 29th overall pick (third round). She joins All-Star Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago), Kayla Standish, Katelan Redmon and Vivan Frieson as drafted Zags stars.
Frieson was the first to Tulsa but didn’t make the regular-season roster. Redmon played for New York but was cut in Storm training camp last year. Palmer could have a similar tough time breaking through the Fever’s tough guard core but has the drive needed to work her way to being a pro in America. Plus she has a tenacious defensive style Indiana coach Lin Dunn likes.
Palmer has also spent multiple summers training with Fever PG Briann January, a Spokane native.
“I am so blessed and thankful for the opportunity,” said Palmer, who averaged 15.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3 steals as a senior to help the Zags win a 10th WCC title. “It’s a dream come true.”
On the same night, GU hired former assistant Lisa Mispley Fortier to replace Kelly Graves, who’s the new coach at Oregon. She said she’d like to have her staff in place this week but is waiting for some decisions to be made with those offered opportunities to join Graves in Eugene.
Jodie Kaczor Berry, who was an assistant for 11 years for Graves, is one of those holdouts. Fortier suspects Berry won’t stay.
“You know Kelly, he’s a magnate,” Fortier said.
She has reached out to recruits to retain them and said the current team, which graduated three seniors, will remain mostly intact. Guards Danielle Walter and Maiki Viela are not expected to return for their senior seasons.
Here’s a video of Fortier’s introduction as a first-time head coach: