By BEN JOHNSON
One second she was eating pizza at a small gathering. The next she was in the middle of a fairy tale.
That was Angel Goodrich’s reality on Monday night. At a small get-together in Lawrence, Kan., Goodrich — now the University of Kansas’ all-time assist leader — saw it was Tulsa’s turn to make a selection in the third round of the WNBA draft.
She knew it. The Shock knew it.
Goodrich and Tulsa was too good of a partnership to miss out on. Thus, the Shock drafted the former Sequoyah standout with the 29th overall pick.
“I can’t explain and express anymore how excited I am and how much of a blessing this is,” Goodrich said. “...It’s just a dream come true.”
Now Goodrich gets a chance to play professional basketball roughly a hour away from where she grew up and played high school basketball.
“It’s a great feeling to be coming home,” Goodrich said on a conference call with media members on Tuesday afternoon. “A lot of people have texted me, they’ve Facebooked me. They’re excited.
“...It’s a hour away from my actual house, and to be coming home, it’s like, ‘wow!’”
Being the sixth player drafted in Kansas’ history is just another notch in Goodrich’s already-storied basketball career. The 5-foot-4 point guard spearheaded Sequoyah’s run to three straight state championships, and she guided Kansas to two straight Sweet 16 appearances.
Now Goodrich’s biggest claim to fame can be that she’s the highest-drafted Native American in the WNBA draft.
“It means a lot,” said Goodrich, who sported a career record of 107-7 during her time at Sequoyah. “Coming from a small town and going to a native school ... it’s amazing. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life. And it’s an honor to represent the Natives.”
Goodrich’s senior season recently concluded with a loss to Notre Dame during the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament. Ironically, the Jayhawks’ run ended at the expense of Skylar Diggins, who went third overall to the Shock on Monday night.
“She’s a great player,” Goodrich said of Diggins. “I’m looking forward to getting to know her better, because she’s a great point guard. I’m just ready to get there and learn from her.”
Being teammates is not yet a guarantee. Goodrich will have to earn a spot on the Shock’s roster before Tulsa opens the 2013 season at Atlanta on May 25.
“Of course there are a limited amount of jobs in the league. I mean, there’s only a certain amount of teams,” Goodrich said. “You’re coming in and you’re trying out for a team that has veterans, and you’re fighting for a job there. It’s something that is exciting for me. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.”
From the way Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg talks, it sounds like Tulsa is elated at the possibility of adding Goodrich to a team that went 9-25 in 2012.
“We were surprised that a player of Angel’s caliber was still left in the draft at pick 29,” he said. “She is a quality player and will have an opportunity to prove herself in training camp.”
If Goodrich — who finished her career at Kansas with 1,262 points and 771 assists, third-most in Big 12 Conference history — does pick up a spot on Tulsa’s roster, there’s a good chance she’ll campaign for the Shock to practice at Sequoyah’s Place Where They Play, much like the Tulsa franchise did in August of 2012.
“I was actually there when they practiced there,” Goodrich said of Tulsa’s visit to Tahlequah while the WNBA was enduring an in-season hiatus because of the Olympics. “I was in the stands and everything. I took my cousins there, and we were just sitting there watching. I’ll definitely campaign for that.”