MSU junior guard Aerial Powers has decided to declare for the 2016 WNBA Draft, according to the MSU Athletic Department. As a result, Powers will forego her senior season with the Spartans.
Last season Powers led the Spartans to third place in the conference standings and to the Big Ten Tournament championship game, while shooting .444 from the floor and .312 from 3-point range and averaged 21.8 points per game and 9.2 rebounds.
Powers is MSU's leading all-time scorer and holds numerous other scoring records for the Spartans, with 1,837 points. Powers also passed her own single-season scoring record with 697 points this season, topping her 678 points last year. Additionally, Powers is also the MSU record holder for career points per game at 18.9.
“This was not an easy decision to make, but I want to thank Coach Merchant and all the coaches and support staff, my family and all of my teammates," Powers said. "I have enjoyed every second of being a Spartan, but now I look forward to the next chapter of my basketball career. Spartan nation will always hold a special place in my heart,”
Powers ranked fourth in the conference in both scoring and rebounding. The 6-foot-0 guard was named third-team All-American by the Associated Press and second-team All-American by the WBCA.
“When you are a coach the number one thing that you want for all of your players is for them to live their dreams and accomplish all of the goals that they set for themselves," head coach Suzy Merchant said. "Aerial, since day one, has had a dream to play in the WNBA, so it’s rewarding and exciting for her to actually have the opportunity to live that dream... We are very proud of her and appreciate everything that she gave to this program. We wish her nothing but the best on her new journey.”
Powers looks to become the sixth Spartan to be selected in the WNBA draft and the first since Liz Shimek in 2006. Spartan-great Kristin Haynie was the highest Michigan State player drafted, as the ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft. Maxann Reese and Kristen Rasmussen were the first Spartans selected in the WNBA draft in 2000. Reese was drafted when she was taken in the third round, while Rasmussen was selected in the fourth. In 2003, Syreeta Broomfield was drafted in the third round.
The WNBA Draft will be held on Thursday, April 14 in Uncasville, CT. ESPN 2 will televise the first round at 7 p.m. and coverage will be moved to ESPN U for the second and third rounds. The draft comes one month before tip-off of the WNBA’s 20th season, which opens on Saturday, May 14.