WNBA’s Atlanta Dream pick San Clemente grad in the second round of draft
By Darian Nourian
Former San Clemente High School girls basketball standout and current USC forward Cassie Harberts made her childhood dreams a reality, as the senior forward was drafted by the Atlanta Dream with the 20th overall pick in the second round of the WNBA Draft on April 14.
In Atlanta, Harberts will be reunited with former USC women’s basketball coach Michael Cooper, who was her head coach during her first three years at USC. Cooper is now the head coach for the Dream.
“I couldn’t imagine myself playing professional sports when I was a kid and I still can’t believe all of this is happening. It’s so rewarding to see all of my hard work pay off,” Harberts said. “It really is a blessing for me to be able to play for Michael Cooper again and I’m extremely excited to get to work with him on developing my game.”
Harberts’ senior season was the icing on the cake for her at USC, as she led the Women of Troy to the program’s first-ever Pac-12 Tournament title and took them back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.
With Harberts serving as team captain, USC compiled a 22-win season, doubling the previous year’s win total of 11. Harberts led the way, averaging 15.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.
With Harberts’ decorated college career at an end, she will go down as one of the greatest women’s players to put on a USC uniform, leaving the program as its No. 7 all-time leading scorer (1,832 points) and the No. 8 all-time rebounder (925). She is also No. 3 all-time in free throws made (560) and No. 12 all-time in blocks (99).
Harberts is the eleventh USC player to be drafted into the WNBA, joining the likes of Tina Thompson and her current coach, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.
Harberts acknowledged that given the opportunity ahead of her, she will have to work even harder as she prepares to make the leap from the college game to the professional ranks.
“I’m going to continue to work on the areas where I feel I need work on and fine tune there and continue to get stronger in the weight room while working on developing my three-point shot,” Harberts said.
Harberts looks to step in immediately and contribute for the Atlanta Dream, who have appeared in the WNBA Finals in three of the last four seasons, but are still looking for the organization’s first WNBA championship.
The soon-to-be USC graduate becomes the second Triton basketball player to be drafted into the league, as former UCLA forward and 2004 San Clemente graduate Lindsey Pluimer was selected by the Washington Mystics with the 20th overall pick of the 2008 WNBA Draft.