Inga Orekhova was just another passenger on the USF Bull Runner Monday afternoon, returning to her apartment right off campus after a workout. Her final
season at USF ended two weeks ago against Rutgers.
Seven hours later, she became the 18th pick in the 2014 WNBA draft for the Atlanta Dream – the highest drafted Bull in program history.
The draft, broadcast on ESPNU, was unavailable to Orekhova though. Refreshing her laptop and cell phone for selection updates was all she could do. It wasn’t until she received messages and tweets that she found out the news.
“I still can’t believe I got drafted,” Orekhova said in a press release. “I felt a weight come off my shoulders because it’s been in the back of my mind this season. I’m still not on the team, but this takes a lot of pressure off.”
Orekhova revealed during the WNIT that she hoped the WNBA or European leagues would notice her tournament performance. During her time playing in the invitational tournament, the Ukraine native averaged 15.2 points and 5.2 rebounds.
Her effort in the post-season helped her get one step closer to what she said was her “childhood dream.”
Orekhova took to Instagram to show her gratitude, posting a photo of her new team’s logo:
“I’m truly blessed with the opportunity given to me. Mommy, we (are) almost there!”
Her mother, former UBBC Herzogenburg guard Svetlana Orekhova, came from Europe to see her daughter’s last few
collegiate regular home season games. Svetlana received the news back in Europe before work with a simple message – “Mom, we made it.”
“My mom use to take me running up and down hills in Austria to train when I was 12 or 13,” Inga said in a press release. “When I wanted to quit she would always say ‘Remember what you
promised me: when you get
drafted, you’re going to buy me a Chanel dress.’ So I guess I owe her that dress now.”
Inga’s determination was a quality Svetlana shared during senior night, when she said her
daughter “played better” and “practiced harder” throughout her time
playing basketball in the U.S. since
USF coach Jose Fernandez also said he saw her contribution to the team.
“Inga has been wonderful to have around,” Fernandez said prior to the announcement. “She had a huge impact on our program because of what she can do on the floor and she will be very successful after here playing professionally. We’re definitely going to miss her, not only as a
basketball player, but more
importantly, as a person.”
Inga will be join AAC player Shoni Schimmel from Louisville as rookie guards on the Dream. Both were third and first respectively in the conference for 3-point field goals made, combining for 5.5 3-pointers a game.
The Dream, 2013’s WNBA Championship Runner Up, shot 27.5 percent from 3-point range last
season. Inga averaged 36.7 percent from that same range during her senior year, an area of the court that helped hear earn 1,000 career points in three years.
Now that the thought about the draft in the back of her mind is gone, she can start focusing on living her lifelong goal that begins with training camp on April 27.
“A childhood dream come true,” Inga tweeted. “Great feeling seeing my name pop up on the draft boards. #AtlantaDream here I come.”