By: Steve Miller – Asst. Sports Editor
A storybook women’s basketball season for the University of Dayton capped off Thursday night when seniors Ally Malott and Andrea Hoover were selected in the WNBA draft. Malott was selected eighth overall by the Washington Mystics, and Hoover was selected 31st overall by the Los Angeles Sparks.
Both Malott and Hoover will graduate on May 3 but are already preparing for their WNBA seasons, which officially begin in early June. The training camps start in mid-May, barely giving the women a moment to transition between their college and professional careers.
Malott’s selection in the first round of the draft was the third-highest for any UD student-athlete. Only John Horan (sixth) and James Paxson (third) were picked higher in the 1955 and 1956 NBA drafts, respectively.
“It’s super exciting,” Malott said in a press conference Friday. “I wasn’t really expecting to go in the first round…[I’m] just happy to have the opportunity no matter where I was picked.”
Malott, a six-foot-four forward, led the Flyers in rebounds in 2015 (7.8 per game) and was the team’s second leading scorer (15.5 per game), right behind Hoover. Malott scored a career-high 30 points in a January matchup against Saint Louis University, and she hit 28 points to down the University of Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“You’re talking about someone who’s six-four. She can play on the block, and she can be comfortable at the 3-point line,” Mystics Head Coach Mike Thibault praised Malott in a post-draft interview. “She’s one of the best shooters in the whole draft. She’s got great offensive footwork.”
Thibault said they saw Malott play “eight, nine, ten times during the year,” starting her first-year at UD.
“I had talked to [Thibault] and a couple [other coaches], but so much strategy goes into [the draft],” Malott said. Until her name was called, she was unsure of her future in basketball.
Hoover, in the draft of 36 total selections, had to see 30 other names before she saw her own.
“I actually found out on Twitter,” Hoover said of her selection. “But seeing my name, and seeing that a team believes in me and gave me the opportunity to try out for the best league in the nation is a real honor.”
Hoover, a 5-foot-9 guard, led Dayton in points this season with 17.4 per game and is fourth on the all-time UD scoring list.
Hoover dreams one day of being a college basketball coach and was planning on continuing her basketball career after college regardless of where it may have led.
“I really wanted to stay in the United States, so the WNBA was really my dream,” Hoover said, “This is something that every little girl, when they play, dreams of doing.”
She and Malott have been roommates and teammates for all four years of their college careers.
“It’s definitely going to be really weird not having Ally as a roommate. She’s always been there for me, she’s my best friend at college,” Hoover said.
When asked about the possibility of playing against Malott in the future, Hoover said, “It’s gonna take me a while to get used to…but once we get between those lines, it’s game on.”
The two draft selections, coupled with the Flyers’ Elite Eight tournament run, speak volumes to the work Dayton Head Coach Jim Jabir, Malott and Hoover have done for the program.
“That’s why we came here, to make a difference,” Malott said, “And elevate the program from where it was. Hopefully we left it in a better place, and it can continue to build next year.”
“Doing it for Coach Jabir, he’s done so much for me and for Ally as individuals,” Hoover said. “This tells the nation about this program… It just takes one or two people to go to the NBA, for one team to make the Elite Eight to open up the door and make high-level recruits interested in going to Dayton.”
Both Malott and Hoover grew up in Middletown and Bellbrook, Ohio, respectively. Graduating for them also means moving away from home for the first time and walking from the UD graduation stage to the biggest stage in women’s basketball.
The Washington Mystics tip off its season June 5 against the Connecticut Sun. The Los Angeles Sparks begin June 6 against the Seattle Storm.