NEW YORK (ABC4 Sports) – Utah forward Alissa Pili became just the third Utes player selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft Monday night.

Pili was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx with the 8th overall pick. She is the highest Utah player selected since Shona Thorburn went with the 7th pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft also by Minnesota.

“It means everything,” Pili said about being drafted. “My family is everything to me. They’ve helped me get here. Without them, I wouldn’t be standing up on that stage.”

Pili was one of the best offensive players in the nation last year with the Utes. The two-time first team All-Pac-12 player averaged 21.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 55 percent from the field. Pili can score from inside and out, as she made 40.4 percent of her three-point shots.

She broke the school record with most points scored in a single season with 727 points, which was No. 8 in the NCAA this season. 

Pili hopes to make an immediate impact in Minnesota in her rookie season.

“I think with my physicality and my versatility,” Pili said. “I’m willing to do whatever the team needs me to, and I’m excited to just learn and grow.”

Pili received even more national attention early this season after putting up a career-high 37 points against No. 1 and eventual NCAA champion South Carolina on Dec. 10. Against the Gamecocks, Pili shot 65.2 percent from the field going 15-23. She went 3-6 from beyond the arc and 4-4 from the free throw line. She also managed two rebounds, one assist and three steals. 

In her first season at Utah, Pili averaged 20.7 points and 5.6 rebounds, and was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year as she led the Utes to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

Pili, a 6-foot-2 forward, was born in Alaska and has a large Native community that has followed her entire career, which began at USC before she transferred to Utah before the 2022-23 season.

“A lot of indigenous and Polynesian girls don’t get to see that role model, and I’m so blessed that I get to be in that position for them,” said Pili, who wore a tribal print on her dress to the draft. “I represent them with pride. Everything it took to get here, their support got me through and helped me get to this stage.”

Pili became the fastest Ute to score 1,000 points in just 48 games. She boasts 1,370 points in just two years at Utah. She breached 2,000 career points this season and pushed her career total to 2,165. 

Pili joins Thorburn and Kim Smith as the only Utah players ever drafted in the first round.

Pili and the Minnesota Lynx will tip off the 2024 WNBA season May 14th.

Utah Women’s Basketball WNBA Draft History
2024: Alissa Pili (First Round, 8th overall pick to the Minnesota Lynx)

2019: Megan Huff (Third Round, 26th overall pick to the New York Liberty)
2014: Michelle Plouffe (Second Round, 19th overall pick to the Seattle Storm)
2009: Morgan Warburton (Third Round, 33rd overall pick to the Sacramento Monarchs)
2008: Leilani Mitchell (Second Round, 25th overall pick to the Phoenix Mercury)
2006: Shona Thorburn (First Round, 7th overall pick to the Minnesota Lynx)
2006: Kim Smith (First Round, 13th overall pick to the Sacramento Monarchs)