BRISTOL, Conn. -- Nnemkadi Ogwumike is excited to be staying in California.
The Stanford senior was picked No. 1 in the WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks on Monday.
"I'm grateful for the L.A. Sparks for picking me," Ogwumike said. "It means a lot and it's one of the highest accolades I've ever received. I'm looking forward to going back to Cali."
Ogwumike helped guide the Cardinal to the Final Four during all four of her seasons at the school, including this year's loss to eventual champion Baylor. The 6-foot-2 forward, who averaged 22.5 points and 10.2 rebounds this past season, is the first Stanford player to be taken with the No. 1 pick. Previously three Cardinal players have been drafted third overall.
"I think looking back, a lot of the players could have gone No. 1," Ogwumike said. "Things go different ways. I'm really proud to be part of this legacy."
Despite finishing with the fourth-worst record in the league at 15-19, the Sparks won the draft lottery in November. They had the smallest chance of the four teams with a shot at winning with only a 10 percent chance. They are the second team in the 11-year history of the lottery to win with the fewest number of chances. Phoenix did it ahead of the 2007 draft.
Los Angeles also had the top pick in 2008 and selected Tennessee star Candace Parker, who went on to win Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in her first professional season.
While Ogwumike's selection was almost a certainty with the top pick, the rest of the draft was a bit more of a mystery with no clear-cut choices going in.
Tennessee guard Shekinna Stricklen went second to the Seattle Storm, who will be without star Lauren Jackson for the first part of the season since she will stay in Australia to train for the London Olympics this summer.
"I was a little surprised," Stricklen said. "It helped when I did a workout with coach Brian (Agler), I had a feeling but wasn't sure."
Notre Dame post Devereaux Peters went third to the defending champion Minnesota Lynx, who had five of the first 20 picks in the draft.