When Toni Young wanted to quit basketball as a Del City high schooler, her older brother, Michael, wouldn’t let her.
So it was only fitting that Michael was sitting by Toni’s side Monday night when the Oklahoma State product reached the sport’s pinnacle, hearing her name called as the seventh overall pick by the New York Liberty in the WNBA Draft.
When the announcement came, Michael was Toni's first hug. And moments after gracing the stage, Michael was her first shout out.
“Thank you for all of this,” Toni said as she turned toward her brother during a live interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe inside the draft room, “and the great opportunity that you pushed me into.
“The situation that he’s helped me get into is a blessing, honestly. That’s my best friend, and that’s the one person that I wanted here with me tonight.”
Toni enters the WNBA after a wildly productive four seasons in Stillwater, becoming just the second player in OSU history to record 1,000 points, 700 rebounds and 100 blocks in a career. And she capped it off with a stellar senior season, averaging 16 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and earning unanimous first-team All-Big 12 honors.
The 6-foot-2 forward is most lauded for her raw athleticism and spectacular ability to out-jump opponents for rebounds. But because of her lean build, Toni has also been working to her expand her game to the perimeter so she can play the small forward position at the pro level.
Toni joins a Liberty squad that reached the playoffs last season and is led by guard Cappie Pondexter, who averaged 17 points and five assists per game in 2012. New York is coached by former NBA All-Star Bill Laimbeer and also added Texas A&M post Kelsey Bone with the No. 5 overall pick in Monday’s draft.