Shekinna Stricklen doesn’t know how much her workout with Seattle actually helped her WNBA draft stock.
Obviously, their session at Pratt Pavilion didn’t hurt. The Storm used their first-round pick, the second overall selection on Monday, to choose the Lady Vols forward.
Stricklen was one of three Lady Vols taken in the first round of the women’s basketball professional league’s annual talent grab, held at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
Glory Johnson was taken fourth by Tulsa. The big surprise involved former Lady Vol Kelley Cain. The 6-foot-6 center, who ended her UT career last spring because of lingering hip, back and knee problems, was taken seventh by the New York Liberty.
Vicki Baugh was the fourth Lady Vol chosen. She went to Tulsa as the first pick of the third round — No. 25 overall.
Stricklen’s versatility, rebounding and 3-point shooting capabilities were established assets. When Storm coach/general manager Brian Agler and his staff gathered with her on the Thursday before Easter, they wanted to learn more about her perceived weakness.
“Mostly it was conditioning,” she said of the workout, “to see if could push through or if I was going to quit.”
The 6-2 Stricklen realized that her temperament and consistency were big question marks. Stricklen scored just two points in the first half during Tennessee’s three-game run through the SEC tournament last month in Nashville.
“I think that’s been the main issue for people looking at me this year, especially throughout this season,” Stricklen said. “I had a lot of ups and downs.”
While Stricklen was selected by a team with a recent WNBA championship (2010), Johnson went to a team that won three games last season, the fewest in league history.
Johnson had an interesting take on Tulsa’s season.
“I know they weren’t as successful as they wanted to be,” she said. “Neither were we at Tennessee.”
With a rebuilding team, the 6-3 forward, a State Farm All-American and the SEC defensive player of the year this season, likely will have a greater opportunity.
“She’s one of those players, she reminds me of (former Lady Vol) Tamika Catchings coming out of college,” Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “She has a high-octane motor.”
Johnson intends to make an impact, and she already has ambitions for her new team.
“I guarantee there will be more than three wins this season,” she said.
After being chosen, both Stricklen and Johnson were so busy that they weren’t immediately aware of Cain’s selection.
“That’s crazy,” Johnson said. “I’m so happy for her. It took her leaving UT to realize she still wanted to play ball.”
After taking a break, Cain played professional overseas for a team in Turkey. She joined the team in January, leaving on the evening of Jan. 1, after watching the Lady Vols play at Auburn earlier that day.
“I know she had a good season,” Stricklen said. “She’s shooting 3s now.”
In a UT release, Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt said: “Kelley’s size can definitely make an impact and if she stays healthy she is a force. Our whole staff was excited to hear her name called.”
Baugh was one of the last draft invitees to be chosen, joining Johnson with the Shock.
The 6-foot-4 center wasn’t shocked by the wait. She referred to her collegiate career, which was interrupted by two major knee injuries.
“I know I have to surprise a lot of people and prove that I am healthy and ready to go and I plan to do that,” she said.
Dan Fleser may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/FleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser.