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April 17, 2020

Jocelyn Willoughby

New York, New York

Q. What was this night like for you where you're drafted 10th, you're on ESPN, and later in the evening traded to New York?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: Oh, it was an emotional night, but just super, super exciting, and to be able to just share it with so many people who mentored me and groomed me along the way was so special, and yeah, so just emotional, exciting, and yeah, it's kind of like a dream come true.

Q. How did you share it with people? Were they with you? Did you have a Zoom call?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: So with the social distancing, it was just my immediate family here at home in New Jersey. I kind of organized at the last minute a Zoom call and just literally coaches who taught me how to do my first lay-up, to my college coaches and teammates that I've had along the way. So yeah, basically through Zoom. Everybody else called in. Everyone who's not in my immediate family. So that was really cool to just see their reactions on the screen and hear them speak a few words afterwards.

Q. When you heard that you were getting traded from Phoenix to New York, what was your thought process, and how do you think you fit in with this Liberty squad?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I mean, I was just really excited. I think that I'll fit in very well. You know, I think obviously the coaching staff is new and just the culture that they're trying to build in Brooklyn is one that I'm excited about, having players who are let's say very passionate and committed players, and I think that's something I really resonate with, being a hard worker and passionate player myself. I think to have players around me, coaches, I think we'll be young, but young teams are I think often exciting to watch and have a lot of growth and just potential. So I'm really, really excited about it.

Q. What do you think you could bring to the table immediately, just to follow up on that?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: Yeah, I think the biggest thing that I'm focusing on bringing is just my hard work and energy every single day and consistently. I think beyond that, I'm a versatile player, and so to be able to do different schemes offensively and defensively, whether I'm playing the four with a small lineup or more the three, I think there will just be a lot of options that come with my versatility, so I'm excited about that.

Q. I'm sure this is something you've been working for for a long time. What does it mean to you to get drafted, especially in the first round?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: Yeah, it definitely has been something that I've been working for. And it just means so much because I think you often work but don't know when you're going to get -- you're going to see it pay off, and just being so diligent in the process, I'm thankful for the opportunity. Definitely don't take it lightly knowing that there's so many talented players that I'm competing against and with for these spots, so I'm just really, really grateful and thankful for this opportunity.

Q. When did you find out you got traded, and had New York been expressing some interest in you in recent weeks?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: Yeah, I found out maybe half an hour ago, not even. Definitely was a shock, but also an exciting moment. Yeah, I'm just happy to be going to Brooklyn, being with the Liberty.

Q. Do you like the fact that you're going to a rebuilding team that could maybe have a lot of playing time available for rookies, and how do you feel your game kind of measures with some of the other rookies that were taken tonight like Sabrina [Ionescu] and Megan [Walker]?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: Yeah, I think obviously very talented players, so I think it'll be a good opportunity. You know, in terms of playing time, that's not just my only focus. I think we're all just going to be competing and getting better, but to be on a young team is exciting. I think also for me, being close to home, being that I'm from New Jersey is really exciting, as well, so I think just between the players, the coaches and just the entire program, I'm excited to be a part of it.

Q. How ready do you feel your game is for the WNBA?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I mean, I feel ready, but as I said in college and even to a greater degree now, it's always about continuing to work, and being confident in my game but always knowing that there's room to grow and improve. It's going to be a learning curve. I know that. But just being willing and ready to put in the work to do what's necessary at the next level.

Q. Did you have a hunch that New York was interested in you?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I had some idea that they'd be interested. But again, for me it was leading up until draft day, you never know what's going to happen. There's so many moving pieces and variables to the equation that just being grateful for the opportunity, whatever comes out of it, was more of my mindset.

Q. You went from potentially having Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner as your teammates to now having Sabrina Ionescu being your new teammate in New York. How excited are you to play with her?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I am very excited. It's an emotional night, going from a very veteran team to now a very young team, but I think both have great things to offer and are super exciting opportunities. So I think obviously Sabrina has had a very, very successful college career and is just a very talented player, so I'm excited to be able to play with her, grow alongside her, but also learn from her, and so she's a special player, and I'm just very excited.

Q. I know this area well. You're a Jersey product. You understand sort of the ebb and flow of what the Liberty have meant in this area. I wonder what it feels like to be part of the Liberty at this point in time when they're about to play in the Barclays Center, when they're getting somewhat of an established brand like Sabrina Ionescu coming in. I wonder what it feels like to be part of the Liberty at this moment?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: Yeah, it's very, very exciting. I think not just for the Liberty but for the league overall. There's a lot of momentum and talent. So to be joining at this moment is really special. But definitely thank the people who have laid the foundation before being able to step into this moment as it is now.

So yeah, I think coming from New Jersey, being close, and kind of like a local product is really a special opportunity to be close to home to have watched the Liberty some growing up, and to now be able to be a part of this program and trying to do something special as it continues to build and establish itself. It's just a dream come true in many ways.

Q. Just to talk about your on-the-court versatility, you were guarding anywhere from 1 through 4. I'm just curious when you think of yourself in the pros and also conversations you've had with Walt [Hopkins] or Jonathan [Kolb], where do you see yourself defensively, more of the same? Is that sort of a swing defense for you, or do you see yourself finding a home in one of those slots more commonly?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I think I'll continue to swing. I think one thing I've learned at the college level and from my conversations with the coaches, one thing I'm excited about with my versatility and being able to bring to the next level is just the ability to bring different looks, both on the offensive and defensive end. I think what I've experienced in college is that being a versatile player, able to switch with other guards or play down in the post, and yeah, do just a bunch of what I think are fun things on defense, whether it's trapping or doubling the post, I think it definitely keeps the offense on their toes, and so to be able to provide that to the next level as a swing player I think will be a great asset and value to the Liberty. Excited about that, and I think there are other pieces and teammates around me that will definitely be great to do that with.

Q. I was curious, going into the night you mentioned earlier some of the kind of really tough and gritty players you played against this past college season. Did you think you would be the first ACC player drafted tonight?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I did not. I don't think I even really considered who of the ACC players would be first. I think for me, it was just more so waiting to hear my name called and see what team I was going to. You know, I knew there were many, many talented players in this draft class, and so it was just a matter of if my name was going to be called and when, not so much over who.

Q. You're going to a Liberty team that took several ACC players, including yourself, Jazmine Jones, Leaonna Odom. Any of those in particular you're amped to share a court with instead of having to defend and score against them?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I think all of them. Each of them have different -- you kind of know their games, having scouted and played against them in college, and so each of them have different strengths and things that I think I can ultimately learn from and just get better playing against, playing with at this next level. I think all of them just bring something special. Kylie, she's a stretch four, she can shoot but also play around the basket. I think Jazmine, she brings great energy, and especially on the defensive end, so I appreciate that, playing against her. Yeah, it's just every player. Odom, she's super long and super athletic. I think each of them, it's nice to not have the ACC rivalry continue and to have them as teammates.

Q. You were kind of part of this foundation that Coach [Tina] Thompson is trying to establish in Virginia, kind of this new era. How do you feel like you left the program, in what kind of shape?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I think I definitely have had a mark on the program. You know, I've had very, very great success at UVA, and I think more than anything, we had a very young class this past year, and so it was about trying to set an example for them to follow in the years to come, to just set standards that would set a solid foundation. And so I think I did very well in that role. I think it was a great leader, and so I'm just excited for the future of the program and to see what the young players as they grow and mature and develop, what they're able to do and accomplish and continue to bring honor and pride to the university and the women's basketball program there.

Q. Speaking of Virginia, what does it mean to kind of carry -- you're the first player drafted since one of your coaches Monica Wright in 2010. It's been 10 years, so how much pride do you take in that?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I mean, I take so much pride in it. I think it's funny, when Monica got back on staff this year, the very first day she met me, she's like, You're going to be a draft pick. We need to start working on this. And just realizing that not even being drafted but just some of the things that I was able to accomplish at UVA hadn't happened until she was there. It was just really, really special to be able to share that with her back as part of the program because I know she put so much energy and effort into building it and I was kind of able to carry that forth. Got to share the moment of being drafted with her tonight, and it was just so special.

Q. Was she able to say anything to you?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: Yeah, I mean, she was just like, I can't say too much right now because I don't want to start crying, but just so, so proud of you and proud of all the hard work and sacrifices that you've made to get to this point and kind of like this is just the beginning for you. We'll definitely reconnect when things are a little less emotional, but very thankful for her and the opportunity to share that moment with her and many other coaches and players and family members.

Q. You grew up in New Jersey, so did you grow up coming to Liberty games as a kid?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I would come to some Liberty games, especially for like school trips. So yeah, definitely -- I wasn't like a season ticket holder but grew up coming to Liberty games here and there.

Q. Do you have any special moments from watching the Liberty when you were growing up?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I can't say that there was one particular moment that comes to mind. But just knowing that they are the local team, and to be able to play on it is special for me.

Q. So they play in a different venue than they were playing when you were growing up, but what is it like to know this pro team that you were maybe aspirational watching as a young player, now you're going to be a part of?
JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY: I mean, it just means the world, and I think just all of the years of hard work, and granted, at that time I didn't know where I would be going or even that I would be in the WNBA, but to see everything come full circle, it's just really humbling, and I just feel so blessed to be in this position and have this opportunity.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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