AURORA | Former Grandview High School star Michaela Onyenwere will get a chance to follow her professional basketball dreams, as she was selected No. 6 overall by the New York Liberty in Thursday’s WNBA Draft.
The three-time Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year and McDonald’s All-American helped the Wolves in a Class 5A state championship during her time in high school and went on to a stellar career with the UCLA women’s basketball team.
Onyenwere, a 6-foot forward, was selected by the Liberty, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a WNBA franchise. She is the third No. 6 pick all-time for the Liberty, joining Sue Wicks in 1997 and Crystal Robinson in 1999.
In a live interview on ESPN, Onyenwere — surrounded by her friends and family — said she was eager to begin the next chapter.
“I’m really excited to get going in New York, it’s going to be a great experience,” Onyenwere said.
Onyenwere also mentioned she already had a friend on the team in Kylee Shook, another former Colorado prep star. The 6-foot-4 Shook went to Mesa Ridge High School in Colorado Springs, then went to Louisville and was the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft by the Liberty.
In a statement issued by the team, General Manager Jonathan Kolb said the Liberty was glad to add a player of Onyenwere’s caliber.
“This is a special night for us,” Kolb said. “To be able to add the talent that we did was both surprising and welcomed. Michaela Onyenwere is someone who fans will be proud to root for.”
Onyenwere became the first Colorado player selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft as Shook’s No. 13 selection was the first pick of the second round.
According to UCLA Women’s Basketball, Onyenwere is the fifth Bruin drafted into the WNBA over the last four years alone and is the program’s sixth first round selection. Additionally, UCLA now has had two players picked by the Liberty, with the last (Nicole Kaczmarski) in 2003.
Onyenwere broke plenty of ground in high school at Grandview, where she wrapped up her prep career by becoming the first player from an Aurora prep program to be selected as a McDonald’s All-American, a feat matched later by former Regis Jesuit star and current Stanford player Francesca Belibi.
As a senior, Onyenwere also played in the inaugural A-Town All-Star Game.
She would go on to play international for USA Basketball while taking on a larger and larger role at UCLA every season. Before her senior season, Onyenwere was selected as an Associated Preseason All-American as a senior and ended the year as a third-team All-American pick after she averaged 19.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 42.1% for a team that made it to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Onyenwere finished with 1,888 points scored to rank fourth on UCLA’s all-time list.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports