Alissa Pili ready for new chapter in WNBA

Alissa Pili ready for new chapter in WNBA

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Alissa Pili is about to become just the third WNBA first round pick from the University of Utah.

“You know, it’s always been a driven mine to just make my mark in the world,” Pili said ahead of Monday’s draft.

And Pili definitely made her mark at Utah. She was a two-time All-Pac-12 first team selection, and last year was the Pac-12 Player of the Year. Pili says her two seasons at Utah really helped her grow into the player she is today.

“You know, there was times where, you know, I didn’t think it was possible,” Pili said about her chances of making the WNBA. “But when I came to Utah, I think that’s when I saw that it was within reach. To have people around me like that, that support me and lift me up, I owe them a lot. I just I’m so thankful and grateful for my experience here.”

Racial slur against U of U Women’s Basketball Team ‘clearly audible’ in surveillance footage, say investigators

Pili, who played her first two seasons at USC, is expected to go in the first ten picks of the draft. Shona Thorburn is the highest drafted Utah player, at #7 back in 2006. Kim Smith is the only other Utah player to be selected in the first round.

Pili will be on stage in New York Monday for the biggest night of her life.

“It honestly makes me super nervous,” Pili said with a laugh. “But I’m just excited to do it. It’s super nerve-wracking at that big stage. But, it’s what I’ve worked for and, I’m just going to try to embrace the moment.”

Pili has become a role model and athletic icon for the Native community, especially in her home state of Alaska. All of her fans are almost as excited as she is.

“People back home and even on social media, I get a lot of support and love,” she said. “I’m going into this new chapter of my life, and just people excited for me and it’s really cool to see.”

Utes eliminated from NCAA Tournament by Gonzaga

As great of a college player as Pili was, she knows the WNBA is an entirely different level. At 5-foot-10, Pili won’t be able to dominate in the paint like she did at Utah, so she’ll have to rely more on her 3-point shooting, which she is totally capable of doing.

“I know there’s way more stronger, athletic people in the WNBA,” Pili said. “So I think my perimeter game will be super important. I’ve been a good player in the collegiate level, but it’s a whole different level now. So, I’m just excited to go in there and kind of like prove myself all over again.”

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to ABC4 Utah.