Three weeks ago, Arizona’s Trinity Baptiste, a former star at Hillsborough, made history, becoming the first player from Hillsborough County and just the third player ever from the Tampa bay area to reach the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
On Thursday, Baptiste was included in another elite list among locals when she became just the third area player to be selected in the WNBA draft.
Baptiste was picked in the second round (24th overall) by the Indiana Fever. She joins Bernice Mosby (Hernando/Florida/Baylor) and Candice Dupree (Wharton/Temple) as the area’s only draftees.
After starting her college career at Northwest Florida State College, Baptiste transferred to Virginia Tech. She played in every game for the Hokies during her sophomore and junior seasons, even earning ACC Sixth player of the year honors last season.
But she never made the NCAA tournament — until this season.
As a starter this season, Baptiste helped the Wildcats qualify for the NCAA women’s tournament for just the eighth time, the last coming in 2005. .
In the Elite Eight, Baptiste, a senior forward, finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to beat Indiana.
The only other area players to play in the Final Four were Dominique Redding and Necole Tunsil.
Redding, who starred at Clearwater, played at Tennessee and won a national title in 2007. She still is the only area player to be crowned a champion at the Division I level. The only other local to make a women’s Final Four is Tunsil, a former star and now coach at Lakewood, who started for Iowa when the Hawkeyes advanced in 1993.
The charmed run continued with Arizona knocking off powerhouse Connecticut in the semifinals before falling to rival Stanford in the title game.
This past week, Baptiste announced she would forgo another of eligibility to turn pro. Teammate Aari McDonald went third overall in Thursday’s draft. It is just the second time the Wildcats have had two players selected in the same WNBA draft.
And it marks another historical moment for Baptiste on the local and national level.