Big stage: MSU's Vivians take by Fever with No. 8 pick in WNBA Draft

Victoria Vivians, right, hugs WNBA President Lisa Borders on Thursday night.
Staff Writer

Years of representing the state of Mississippi as the face of women’s basketball won’t end any time soon for Victoria Vivians.

One of the most decorated high school girls basketball players of all time and Mississippi State’s All-American guard is now taking that face and her game to the big stage in the WNBA.

Vivians walked across the stage at the New York Nike headquarters and accepted a first round selection as the No. 8 pick overall to the Indiana Fever.

“I’m so relieved to get picked, especially with all of the buildup that’s been going on, but the experience has been awesome,” Vivians told the Starkville Daily News. “I’ve talked to coach (Pokey) Chatman a couple of times and she’s actually one of the coaches I was hoping to play for so I’m glad they picked me.”

It was a huge night for Chatman and the Fever as they were able to get the nation’s leading scorer in Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell with the second pick of the draft and then Vivians came at the eighth pick.

Indiana capped its first round off with another Ohio State player in forward Stephanie Mavunga at pick No. 14. Chatman said that it worked out exactly how they planned it and Vivians was right in the middle of it all.

“That was our plan A package and for it to come to fruition, we’re ecstatic,” Chatman told the SDN. “Victoria is obviously someone we’re thrilled to have landed. Her efficiency from junior to senior year was incredible. Playing for Vic (Schaefer) also tells me that she’s going to have character and she’s going to be a great defensive player since he’s the Secretary of Defense.”

Vivians arrived in Starkville with high expectations after setting the national scoring record for high school girls basketball with 5,745 career points. She was a first-team All-American in high school and two-time state champion, but she reached her expectations and more at MSU.

Schaefer was happy to share the special night with Vivians and her family.

“To be a top eight pick in the WNBA Draft is so special," Schaefer said in a school release. "So much hard work and commitment goes into a day like today, from the early days of playing with her brothers and cousins on the dirt outside, to playing for Chad Harrison at Scott Central, to her choosing to stay at home and play for her state school Mississippi State.

"We all can share in our pride that we have for Victoria. The great state of Mississippi can be proud of Victoria. She is going to a great team that is so excited to get her. She will be a tremendous fit for them.”

In Starkville, the Scott Central product finished second in school history behind LaToya Thomas with 2,527 points and was also second in field goals made (923) and 3-pointers made (281). She also finished fourth in school history with 218 career steals and 400 made free throws.

In her senior season, Vivians had the best season of her storied career. She was first-team All-American and the winner of the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award for the top shooting guard national. She also finished a first-team All-Southeastern Conference member. She led the Bulldogs with 19.8 points per game, shot 49 percent from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point line and 81 percent from the free-throw line while pulling down six rebounds a game. All of which were career highs.

Vivians became the sixth Bulldog to be drafted into the WNBA and the first since 2010 when Chanel Mokango, Armelie Lumanu and Alexis Rack were all drafted. She’s the fifth player in school history to grab a first round selection joining Mokango, Thomas, Tan White and Sharon Thompson.

According to Chatman, don’t expect Vivians to be brought along slowly as a rookie. The former LSU coach emphatically stated that Vivians will be a major part of the Fever’s plans right away thanks to how she developed in her role in Starkville.

“Playing the four position really helped her see the floor and it showed just how versatile she is,” Chatman said. “It mimicked what her game will be on this level in the WNBA and I think she’s ready right now to make an impact. She is an elite level player and you don’t put them on the bench. She has pride and she has toughness and I think she has thick skin so if she doesn’t get it right away, I expect her to be in the gym the next day improving. She is a special player.”

Fellow seniors Morgan William, Roshunda Johnson and Blair Schaefer went undrafted for the Bulldogs on Thursday night. All of them still will have the opportunity to earn training camp invites or sign deals with teams.

Vivians and the rest of the rookies will report to training camp on April 29.