Oh, Canada! Storm nabs UCLA star point guard with fifth pick

Jordin Canada drives to the hoop for another bucket. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.
Jordin Canada drives to the hoop for another bucket. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.

Jordin Canada needs no introduction to KeyArena.

For all four years of her UCLA career, the 5-foot-6 floor general spent the opening days of March in Seattle for the Pac-12 Tournament. She’s looked the part of a pro each time, with three-straight All-Tournament Team selections to her name.

She’ll now get to settle in to the Emerald City for more than just a long weekend, taken fifth overall by the Storm on Thursday night.

The reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year gives the franchise an heir apparent to Sue Bird, and head coach Dan Hughes said Canada will provide immediate depth at the point.

“She’s a little different than Sue,” he said. “She brings a different package to her game, yet they both have a mentality that I think will sync.”

Hughes suggested that he may occasionally put both on the floor at the same time, and that he loves the contrast in their games, though the duo each, “look at the game in a cerebral way.”

“Sue is a complete package and very versatile in doing a lot of things,” he said. “Jordin gets in the lane a lot, Jordin really pushes the ball. Jordin defensively — we will be able to really use ball pressure — [while] Sue is excellent in position defense.”

Jordin Canada. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.
Jordin Canada. Photo by Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld.

But it’s Canada’s quickness with the basketball and her vision on the court that made the Pac-12’s all-time assists leader stand out.

“She was able to find open players with a regularity that was pretty amazing,” he said.

Hughes also noted that Canada had been on his radar for some time. Her high school coach in Los Angeles, Vanessa Nygaard, was his assistant in San Antonio during the Stars’ 2008 finals run.

“I feel like I’ve grown up with her a little bit,” he said.

In a statement, Storm President and General Manager Alisha Valavanis called Canada’s selection, “an incredible opportunity for a rookie point guard,” to learn from Bird.

“Jordin is a dynamic player that will fit well in [Hughes’] system,” she said. “In additional to her offensive skillset, her defensive tenacity is invaluable.”

In addition to being the Bruins’ assists leader, Canada leaves as the program’s second all-time leading scorer, and third in steals and field goals.

UCLA head coach Cori Close said in a release that Seattle is a “great fit,” for Canada.

“I have a ton of respect for Dan Hughes and I know he will continue to develop her game,” she said.

The three-time All-American — who led the Bruins in points (17), assists (7.1), and steals (3.3) per game this season — became the first UCLA player since new Storm teammate Noelle Quinn in 2007 to be drafted in the first round.

Seattle also added West Virginia forward Teana Muldrow in the third round. The 6-foot-1 East Orange, N.J. native averaged 18 points and nine rebounds a night this season — both team-highs — and was an All-Big-12 First Team selection.

Muldrow will try to earn a spot in what will likely be a deeper rotation in the post than in years’ past, with the additions of Natasha Howard (via trade) and Courtney Paris (free agency) in the offseason.

The Storm open the regular season May 20 at KeyArena against Phoenix.