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April 11, 2013

Kelsey Bone

Elena Delle Donne

Skylar Diggins

Tayler Hill

THE MODERATOR:  I want to welcome to the call our players:  Kelsey Bone from Texas A&M; Elena Delle Donne from Delaware; Skylar Diggins from Notre Dame; and Tayler Hill from Ohio State.  Ladies, thank you very much for dialing in and thank you for waiting patiently.

Q.  Skylar, do you have a preference on where you go in the draft, Tulsa or Chicago?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I do not.  I would say that our fans probably would beg to differ being that Chicago is so close to South Bend.  However, it's been a dream of mine since I was young and since the league started in '97 to play for the WNBA.  And now that this opportunity has presented itself, I am looking forward to whatever city I go to, and I'll make the best of it.

Q.  Tayler, Coach Laimbeer basically said you played unafraid basketball, not afraid basketball.  Where's that come from for you?
TAYLER HILL:  Just growing up, I had an older brother playing basketball, and playing against the boys when I was younger over the years it just made you tough.  As you get older and you start to play Division I and you're playing against the best college players, you've got to bring it every day or you're going to get embarrassed.
I think it's just the mentality growing up for my family.  And once you're playing against the best players night‑in and night‑out, you've got to come with it.

Q.  One other question for you.  Did you get your tonsils taken care of?
TAYLER HILL:  Yes, they're out and I'm feeling a lot better.  I had them taken out.

Q.  Tayler, can you talk about what are you planning on doing on the countdown as you prepare to hear your name being called Monday night?
TAYLER HILL:  Well, this week I just worked out and I got back in the gym after my tonsil surgery.  We leave tomorrow to go to Connecticut to prepare for the draft, so I'll be down there preparing.  So, basically, that's about it.  Just waiting to see Monday where I'll go and go from there.

Q.  Are there any anxious moments or anxiety for you at this point?
TAYLER HILL:  I think it is.  I'm a little excited, but I am anxious too at the same time.  I'm trying not to overthink it.  Like Skylar was saying earlier, whatever team I get drafted to, it's going to be a blessing.  This has always been a dream.  You've just got to wait it out until Monday, but I'm definitely going to enjoy the journey this weekend.

Q.  Elena, how comfortable are you with sort of the physical play that's demanded inside?  You have sort of remarkable guard skills for a woman your size.  But probably you're going to have to bang around a lot inside.  I just wonder are you looking forward to that?  What are your thoughts on that?
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  Yeah, I'm very comfortable still even playing a post position and banging inside a little bit.  I think my versatility will help that, obviously, I can go outside and play the guard spot.  But I can also go inside and play that four spot, and even face‑up on some of the bigger girls.  So if the banging is getting to be a little too much, just face‑up, and do something else.

Q.  Kelsey, can you talk about just that you made the decision to go ahead and bypass your last year of eligibility.  Did you just feel this was the right time for you, and what were the factors?  This is a very physical league inside, and how much do you look forward to that, or do you relish getting a chance to prove yourself at that level?
KELSEY BONE:  The factors that played into my decision were very simple for me.  I felt like, you know, I remember when the Comets won four WNBA championships in a row.  I was sitting in the stands watching that.  I saw Tina Thompson become a superstar on a world platform.  So for me, I thought nothing would prepare me for professional basketball like professional basketball.  I felt like another year in college would benefit me some, but I felt like the opportunity I had to go wherever I might end up, I will go in and play with women who have played and competed on all different levels.
The league is a lot more physical than the college game, and that's something that excites me.  That is something that I do get an opportunity to go in and bang, and I don't have to always kind of play pretty ball and finesse ball.
So it's exciting for me.  Talking about the opportunities of a lifetime, and just being able to go in, and you're right, prove myself at this level that I can compete and I'm here to stay.

Q.  I want to address my first question to Elena.  Playing high school basketball in Delaware and then college basketball in Delaware, how do you view the idea of maybe now being in a new town that you've never been to before and playing on the road all the time?  Just like your thoughts on that.
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  When I decided to go back to college basketball and play Delaware, I was an 18‑year‑old girl.  I've been able to grow through college and live away from home.  And just experience these things.  Now I'm a 23‑year‑old woman and I'm ready to take that next step in basketball as a professional.  It's something I've dreamed of my entire life.  And now that it's here, I'm thrilled about it and ready to make my next move.  I've gone from an 18‑year‑old girl to a 23‑year‑old woman, and I'm ready to move on.

Q.  Can I ask you if you know anything about Oklahoma and what are your impressions of Oklahoma?
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  I don't know that much about it.  But if I get drafted there, I'll be thrilled to play there.  Like everybody has said, it's a dream come true finely being able to play professional ball, and I'm going to be thrilled wherever I end up.

Q.  Skylar, do you know anything about Oklahoma, and what are your impressions of Oklahoma?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I don't know very much about it.  But I've talked to Coach Croft, and he seems excited and optimistic with where they're going to play next year.  Everybody is excited about that.  If that's where I end up, like Elena said, I'll be excited and try to do everything I can to contribute.

Q.  Skylar, I know you've been a student of the WNBA game for a long time.  Can you talk about how well their style of play matches up with your skillset?  Also, can you talk about the challenge of having to adjust very quickly to what's different for you about the WNBA game?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Just filling a role.  I think that was my bread and butter and Notre Dame.  With the court being more open this year with the defensive three‑second, I think there will be a lot more opportunities for me to penetrate, get in the paint and be able to create for my teammates that way.  That was my job at Notre Dame is being a play maker.
I think the pace will be a little different.  It's a faster game, it's more physical, and everyone is bigger and better.  I just will have to be classy, but I'm looking forward to the challenge and I'm excited.

Q.  Tayler, congratulations on a fantastic career at Ohio State.  Take us back to everyone around here in Minnesota knows the standout career that you had at Minneapolis South.  Can you share with us how you believe that you have improved and grown as a player and as a person at Ohio State?
TAYLER HILL:  Yeah, well, high school and AAU basketball, the ball was in my hands a lot and playing guard position.  I think in college my college coaches did an excellent job of putting me in positions where I had to learn how to play off the ball.  Every year I had to play a different role.  So me playing a different role every year in college helped me become a complete player, all‑around player on offense and defense.  In high school, I didn't play defense because I didn't really have to.
Same thing in AAU, there were a few teams that we'd play and I'd actually have to play defense.  Like we played Skylar a few times throughout high school or throughout AAU, and you have to play defense of course on her.  But for the most part that wasn't my role.  That's not what I had to do.  The ball was in my hands.
Like I said, in college, my coaches did an excellent job of putting me in different positions and how to play different roles for me to become an overall better overall player.  I think overall my game has evolved offensively and defensively to be ready for this next level.

Q.  Skylar, nobody in college basketball knows Kelly Faris better than you after all the times you played against her.  I'm just wondering, what kind of a WNBA player you think Kelly is going to be.
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I think Kelly Faris is a very hard worker.  She's one of the hardest workers on the floor.  She's a smart player, and she knows how to play a role.  I think that will continue in the league.  From my standpoint, I think you'd have to ask her coach as far as everything else goes.  But from playing against her and with her before a couple years ago, I think she's a hard worker.  And I think that will continue, and that's always been her MO is to be one of the hardest workers on the court and to do whatever the team needs her to do.

Q.  What did you think of her performance in the National Championship Game?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I didn't watch it.

Q.  Tayler, I happened to go to Ohio State in January to watch you play, and I think you were coming off an injury.  Can you give us a little background on what hit you injury‑wise this year and where you are now?
TAYLER HILL:  I didn't have any injuries this year.  I just had tonsil problems all year, so since January 1st I was playing with strep throat the rest of the season, so that was the only thing bothering me.  There were a few times I had to go get my tonsils drained in the hospital.  That was the only thing.  I didn't have any injuries.

Q.  Just to follow up on that, how many games did you miss because of that?  Just a couple?
TAYLER HILL:  Yeah, the two times that I had to get my tonsils drained because I had lost so much blood.  Because they had to cut them open, they wouldn't let me play that night.

Q.  So in other words, you had no injuries to your feet, knees, it was just tonsils, and you just had them out and you're good to go?

Q.  Elena, you had to do a lot of everything at Delaware, inside, outside, you name it.  Do you look at the WNBA as an opportunity for maybe your skills to flourish even more because you won't be subject to all of the junk defenses you had to face at Delaware, the double teaming and triple‑teaming and things like that?
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  I definitely am looking forward to the WNBA.  Not having to play against the box and ones, triangle and twos, and just odd defenses.  I think it's going to be fun being able to play more straight up basketball.  I saw that a lot with USA basketball, and I thought that was really enjoyable.  More than anything, I'll be able to use my passing a lot more and just kind of seeing the floor.
I think it's going to be a lot of fun being away from all of those jump defenses and being able to play straight up basketball.

Q.  What kind of concerns have WNBA teams expressed about your lyme disease battles, and what kind of reassurances have you been able to give to them about that you're feeling better, and the prognosis is pretty good?
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  They haven't been too concerned.  They've asked about it, and they know I'm in really good health right now and I have ahold of it.  So it hasn't been much of a concern at all.  I think they're willing to work closely with my doctors who are still in Lancaster, so that's something that I'm going to be able to do.  No matter where I'm from, I'll still have close contact with my doctor.

Q.  Kelsey, what have you heard from NBA coaches about you and your game, some things they like and things you need to work on?
KELSEY BONE:  Mostly people are excited because I am more of a traditional post player.  I think a lot of things in my ability to score in the black.  A lot of the concern is that I play in the forward spot, can I show my face‑up game, can I (indiscernible).  So that's something I'm excited to be able to show in the league.  Also defending forward players and being able to keep up.
In college, I was just needed on the block.  So showing a little more versatility and being able to play both post positions.

Q.  Elena, you've talked a lot about what the WNBA is going to be like.  Can you just talk about your training over the last few weeks since the end of the tournament and kind of the anticipation leading up to Monday night?
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  After the tournament, I took a week off just to kind of cool down and rest a little bit.  This week I started back up with lifting.  But we're leaving tomorrow to head out for rookie orientation, and then we're out there a little bit for the draft.
Once I figure out where I'm going and everything, I'll go back to Delaware, train there for probably another week and a half, do basketball skill workouts along with lifting.  Then May 1st, I plan to move out to whatever city I'm drafted to.

Q.  You are going to finish school though?
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  I've graduated already.  I'm finished.

Q.  Bill Laimbeer spoke about how important TV is and how ESPN and the ladies are getting a little more television.  Just talk a little about how Brittney, with her dunking.  They kept showing it a lot on TV a lot of times things that in the past weren't highlighted.  How much do you think that's going to help you in the long run as far as your careers and also, of course, the question would be with maybe possibly even making more money down the road?
SPEAKER:  I think that with the exposure that I gained on the collegiate level has gotten in the past few years, it's been really good for our game as a whole.  I think when you talk about the notoriety that's coming into the league, when you talk about the day and age of modern technology, I think we stand a good chance to put this game on another level nationally.
At the end of the day, it's all about growing the game so that our little sisters and our daughters when they're ready to start becoming professionals, they don't have the same struggles as us.  So I think we're headed down the right path for that.

Q.  I'd like to hear from all the players.
SPEAKER:  With the growth of social media also, I think that's important because not only can you watch the game from your TV, you can watch it on the internet and what have you.  To be able to tweet out those links or put a Facebook link out or Instagram and all the things that we have now, it's something that wasn't as big in the past.  It was almost nonexistent seven, eight years ago.  The magnitude that that's grown, I think that's also helped spread our game.
SPEAKER:  I agree.  I think prior to this, the league has been hidden a little bit.  You don't see it as much.  To get a bigger following, we need to be seen and they need to show games on television and get that excitement going and get more fans involved.  So I think it's crucial that we're going to be getting some more TV games.
SPEAKER:  I agree.  With the social media, it helps out.  But also with the players that are coming into the draft, the creativity that they bring to the game is also going to draw people in to watch more.

Q.  Kelsey, and perhaps Tayler can weigh in on it too, so much of the media attention of the draft has been on Elena and Skylar and Brittney, clearly outstanding talent.  But (No microphone).  Do you think that you might have been one of the top players in the draft next year?  And for, Tayler, you didn't necessarily have that option, but who would you say in a normal year would be the top players in this draft?
KELSEY BONE:  Well, for me, when you talk about the three, what type of careers they've had, where they're going to go in the history books as far as women's basketball is concerned on the collegiate level, they were definitely three to see.  When you look at what Brittney brings to the table‑‑ the good thing about it is all three of them are different.  All of them showcase different things that our game is about.  They just show the versatility and different dynamics of our game.
So, for me, though I knew I could possibly be a top draft pick next year as well, for me, I'm in the same position this year.  So I didn't see a reason to put off the inevitable.  I'll have my degree in May.  I've done some things as a collegiate player that I wanted to be.  So for me, it was all about growing my game, so this is a big decision to make this jump.
TAYLER HILL:  Did you want me to answer that same question?

Q.  Yes, I know you didn't have the option of waiting a year.  But who would you say are top players in this year's draft that we're not talking that much about?
TAYLER HILL:  To be completely honest, first, I think, Elena, Skylar, and Brittney deserve all the credit they've been getting.  They've brought their teams to places that a lot of people don't bring their teams to, and they've done things, like Kelsey said, in the women's game to show versatility.
But the players that they are bringing to the draft are all top players.  They wouldn't be invited to the draft if they weren't top players.  So I think all of the players they decided to invite to the draft‑‑ and there are some other players out there like Markel Walker that have done some things in the collegiate level that have been very successful for her.
Maybe her team hasn't been as successful so she didn't get the recognition that they get.  But I think the players that they're bringing to the draft are top players.  This is like a way for us to be recognized outside of the big three.

Q.  I know Kelsey grew up in Houston and was a big Comets fan.  I'm wondering for the other three, at what age did you have awareness of the WNBA?  By chance were you a fan of any particular team when you were younger like she was?
SPEAKER:  I was a fan right away.  I didn't have a particular team, but Sheryl Swoopes and Cynthia Cooper were my two favorite players.  So whenever they were on, I watched them.
SPEAKER:  For me, I loved Lisa Leslie, loved, loved, loved her.  Still love her.  I also like the Indiana Fever.
SPEAKER:  For me, I actually really liked Sheryl Swoopes and wanted her sneakers.  I just really liked her a lot.

Q.  Skylar, can you talk a little bit about what this class brings to the WNBA, not only the opportunity to make an immediate impact, but to make a lasting impact?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I think like some of the girls said earlier, just the talent is so spread throughout the positions.  You have the point guards.  You have the two guards.  You have the post players.  True posts.  You have people that can do everything.
This class is special.  For years people have been talking about this class.  I know everyone's so excited and the buzz around the WNBA is as big as it's ever been.  They're doing new things preparing for this class to come in, and I think there are a lot of players that have the potential to come in and make an immediate impact and be franchise players for their team.
I'm happy to be a part of it.  You see a lot of the talent has spread throughout the teams too also in college.  Now everybody's coming together, and now we have someone talented in every position.

Q.  Skylar and Elena, could you just talk about the idea of potentially moving to Chicago, playing for the Chicago Sky, what you know about that, and specifically playing with players like Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  For me, it would be exciting.  It would be an easy move.  It's right down the street about an hour and 15 minutes away from my house.  I think that it would be great for the city of South Bend and the Notre Dame fans for them to commute easily to the game.
I would be excited to play with Sylvia and the team under Coach Chatman, and I think it would be a great group of girls to play with if the cards fall that way and a great organization.
TAYLER HILL:  For me, I've heard Chicago is an amazing place to live, so I'd really be excited about moving to the city.  Obviously, that's a very talented team, and I think it would be an awesome opportunity to really take our team to the next level.  I think also Coach Chatman is really doing a lot with the team, so I would be very excited to join that team and be a part of that team.

Q.  As a follow‑up, how much does it appeal to the two of you to be on a team that really needs that missing piece, a team that's really never been there before?  You've played on some successful teams, but this team is ready to take that next step.  Does that aspect appeal to you at all?
TAYLER HILL:  I definitely think that's appealing.  You go in as the underdog, but you can take steps that have never been taken before.  So that's definitely an exciting thing and a challenge that I've faced a little bit at Delaware and would love to face in Chicago.
THE MODERATOR:  Kelsey, Elena, Skylar, Tayler thank you so much for your time this week.  Looking forward to seeing you in Connecticut, and on Monday night for the telecast.  Thanks, everybody.

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