FORT MYERS, Fla. — A historic night for women’s basketball in Southwest Florida as two former college stars get drafted in the 2022 WNBA Draft.
Florida Gulf Coast guard Kierstan Bell goes to the Las Vegas Aces with the 11th overall pick. Bell becomes the first FGCU player to be drafted in the first round of the WNBA Draft. In 2016, the Los Angeles Sparks picked Whitney Knight in the second round (15th overall pick).
“I just want to thank them,” Bell said in a news conference about her two years at FGCU. “They put me in a better position when I moved down here for my first year and they have been great ever since and I want to thank them and everyone that has been there from the beginning to the end.”
Bell, a native of Alliance, Ohio, played at Ohio State for her freshman year before transferring to Florida Gulf Coast for the 2020-21 season. She averaged nearly 23 points per game for the Eagles, who finished 30-3 (15-1 in the Atlantic Sun) and made the second round of the NCAA women’s tournament, losing to Maryland 89-65, on March 20.
“It’s a blessing, being one of the first to be drafted in the first round,” said Bell. “It’s an honor and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to take this with me and hold it in my back pocket and get to work.”
Many WNBA writers had projected Bell to be drafted in the top five picks, often to the Indiana Fever with the fourth pick. Instead, Bell will play for the Las Vegas Aces, a team that has made the Western Conference finals or the WNBA Finals in each of the last three seasons.
The Indiana Fever drafted Fort Myers native Destanni Henderson in the second round, with the 20th overall pick. Henderson starred at Fort Myers High School, even ranking as the top point guard recruit coming out of high school in the Class of 2018.
“It feels great,” Henderson said in a news conference, minutes after the Fever selected her. “I love where I come from and to put on a statement like that, it means a lot. It shows how hard I worked. I’m one of the first ones to do it and I want to pave the way for younger players and younger youth. It doesn’t end with me and they can do it, too.”
Henderson starred at South Carolina as the Gamecocks played in two Final Fours and her 26-point performance on April 3 led the way for South Carolina’s championship victory over Connecticut. Henderson averaged 11.5 points per game as she earned All-Tournament recognition at the Final Four. She becomes the 13th player in South Carolina program history to be drafted in the 25 years of the WNBA.