NORMAN — Whitney Hand thought her basketball playing career might be finished for good last December, when a second ACL tear ended her senior season at Oklahoma.
But Hand could have a professional hoops future after all, thanks to the San Antonio Silver Stars’ surprise third-round selection of Hand in Monday’s WNBA Draft.
“I got a call last week that said it was a possibility,” Hand said Tuesday, after Oklahoma’s annual Max Weitzenhoffer Scholar Athlete Breakfast.
“Coach (Dan) Hughes called me and was so kind. He just said, ‘I feel like you deserve to be drafted. We want to give you the recognition of being drafted. If it works out for us later, great.’”
Hand won’t be finished rehabilitating her knee until July, so she wouldn’t be able to play this season. The Stars’ selection means they hold the rights to Hand, should she choose to play in 2014.
The former Oklahoma guard still isn’t sure what she’ll do when training camp 2014 rolls around, but said Hughes told her there’s “no pressure” to play.
“Whitney Hand has just been a player that we’ve admired her whole career at Oklahoma,” Hughes told reporters Monday night. “What we would like to do with her, obviously, is when she becomes healthy again, see how that plays out. We just admired this young woman, so a chance to draft her in the third round was something we were very pleased to do.”
Should Hand choose to pursue a WNBA career, she’d be reunited with with former Oklahoma guard Danielle Robinson, who is entering her third season with San Antonio. She started 34 games last year.
“I just have so much respect for San Antonio,” Hand said. “I’ve heard if you play in the WNBA, you want to play for Dan Hughes. You want to play for San Antonio. Danielle has said nothing but amazing things about the city, about the program, about the fans. If I do choose to pursue that, it’s exciting to go play with her maybe.”
Hand, a Fort Worth, Texas, native started 103 games at Oklahoma, recording 1,211 points, 555 rebounds and 296 assists. She tore her first career ACL five games into her sophomore season, and returned to action in January 2011 following a 401-day rehabilitation.