THE BASKETBALL fraternity in the Caribbean was elated on Friday night after Kaila Charles became the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 virtual Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft, after being selected by the Connecticut Sun.
Charles has a Trinidadian father, Walter and an Antiguan mother, Ruperta – who participated in the 100-metre sprint in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and is a Howard University Hall of Famer. Kaila, who visited TT in 2018, has three older siblings Darron, Afia and Akil.
Charles joined the list of TT players to be drafted in the WNBA. Pietra Gay paved the way when she was selected by the Houston Comets in the inaugural WNBA season in 1997. She helped her team lift the title that year, before moving on to play in Europe until her retirement.
Also, plying her trade in the league was Gillian Goring who was drafted by the Washington Mystics in 2007 in the third round, with the 32nd pick.
Shortly after being drafted, Charles said in an interview with WJLA news, “It was amazing, a dream come true to see my name come up on the screen when I got picked. And so, I am very excited for this next chapter and I’m ready to get ready and start playing.”
The 6’1” basketballer became the first player to be drafted from her school in three years. She posted on her Instagram page, “All glory to God. Since I was a little girl, I always dreamed about being in the WNBA. Thank you, Connecticut Sun, for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime and making my wildest dream come true. Cheers to new beginnings.”
The 22- year-old Maryland native completed her four-year collegiate career at the University of Maryland averaging 14.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals. She led her school in both scoring and rebounding in the last season. She recorded a season-high 28 points in the Terrapins’ 72-62 win over Ohio State University, adding a career-high 18 rebounds versus the University of Iowa.
Her most recent achievements were earning the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Coaches' All-America Honorable Mention honours, and All-America honours – both from the Associated Press and the US Basketball Writers Association earlier this year.
Charles also guided Maryland to its fifth Big Ten championship and fourth Big Ten Tournament title in March. Her efforts allowed her to be selected on the All-Big Ten First Team, her third consecutive pick following her All-Freshman Team selection in 2017.