As it turned out, Karisma Penn was right to take a cautious view of her WNBA draft prospects.
Amid widespread speculation that the Illinois senior center would be taken in the second round, Penn said last week that she was making no such assumptions — even acknowledging the possibility that she might be bypassed altogether.
That indeed is what transpired Monday night, as the three-round, 36-pick lottery unfolded in front of a national cable TV audience without the Illini honorable mention All-American hearing her name called.
Penn was not available for comment afterward.
During the NCAA Women's Final Four earlier this month in New Orleans, the two-time Illini MVP was interviewed by the head coaches of three WNBA teams — Seattle, Indiana and San Antonio. On draft night, each franchise went a different direction with its selections, including San Antonio, which had three of the first 20 picks and four overall.
While Penn, a three-time All-Big Ten honoree, wasn't taken, her conference produced four draftees. Ohio State guard Tayler Hill was the No. 4 pick by Washington. Nebraska guard Lindsey Moore was the final selection of the first round, to Minnesota with the 16th choice.
Penn State guard Alex Bentley was the first pick in the second round, by Atlanta. And her Lady Lions teammate, forward-center Nikki Greene, was taken high in the third round by Phoenix with the 26th overall selection.
As expected, 6-foot-8 Baylor center Brittney Griner — the No. 2 scorer in Division I women's history — was the first pick of the draft by Phoenix.
Penn, who concluded her Illinois career as the program's all-time leader in blocked shots and No. 2 rebounder, had hoped to become the fifth Illini player to be selected in the WNBA draft. The most recent Illinois draftee was her former teammate, center Jenna Smith, a second-round choice in 2010 by Washington.
The 6-foot-2 Penn, projected to play forward in the pros, could still end up on a WNBA roster when training camps open on May 5. With the draft over, the league's teams are free to add undrafted free agents.