Star trio drafted into WNBA

Updated: April 15, 2013, 10:08 PM ET
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Editor's note: Expected top WNBA picks Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner are in Bristol, Conn., Monday for the draft; espnW will follow them for all the behind-the-scenes action.

10:04 p.m.: Diggins went back on the ESPN broadcast and encouraged Tulsa Shock fans to get their season tickets. "We are going to rock it," she promised. Diggins also said she would have a personal meet and greet for the first 50 people who buy season tickets.

9:38 p.m.: Delle Donne follows New York Liberty GM and coach Bill Laimbeer on the draft set in an interview with Kevin Negandhi, Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck. "I love that challenge, that they haven't made the playoffs. ... I think I fit on this team so well. I can't wait to get there," Delle Donne said. She added that she's looking forward to playing against Griner in the post. That's a battle basketball fans can appreciate.

She added: "I grew not only as a basketball player, but even more as a person at Delaware. I was able to explore college, but have my family close by. I was an 18-year-old girl, now I'm a 23-year-old woman leaving. I'm so ready for this next step and excited about it."

9:38 p.m.: Delle Donne follows New York Liberty GM and coach Bill Laimbeer on the draft set in an interview with Kevin Negandhi, Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck. "I love that challenge, that they haven't made the playoffs. ... I think I fit on this team so well. I can't wait to get there," Delle Donne said. She added that she's looking forward to playing against Griner in the post. That's a battle basketball fans can appreciate.

9:03 p.m.: Delle Donne, en route to another stop on her post-draft checklist, is intercepted by Sky staff and brought to the team's draft room. Sky coach Pokey Chatman calls in on Skype, saying a quick hello to her newest player.

Skylar DigginsAllen Kee/ESPN ImagesSkylar Diggins shows off her Shock jersey after being picked third overall.

8:56 p.m.: Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg greeted his top pick, Diggins, in the VIP area after she finished with the media. The Shock brought her a bag of gear and talked to her a little about the season and expectations.

8:38 p.m.: Delle Donne is greeted by Sky assistant coach Jeff House, who puts her on the phone with Sky head coach Pokey Chatman. Delle Donne then heads off to get more photos taken. She says she can't wait to start the season. "I can't wait to get after it," she says.

8:34 p.m.: Delle Donne and Diggins follow Griner and face a battery of questions at a news conference. After that, they each join their respective teams on Skype for a live look-in. Diggins has been on ESPN's campus since 8:15 a.m., and the whirlwind tour continues.

8:26 p.m.: Diggins tweets: Dear Tulsa, Get ready to SHOCK the world.

8:16 p.m.: The Tulsa Shock take Diggins. The dynamic play-making point guard fills a major need for Tulsa. "I'm just so excited about this opportunity," a smiling Diggins said.

8:13 p.m.: The Chicago Sky follow by making Delle Donne the second overall pick. They could have easily gone with Diggins, but Delle Donne's height and versatility were too much to pass up. "This is a dream come true," Delle Donne said.

Brittney GrinerJesse D. Garrabrant/Getty ImagesBrittney Griner holds up her jersey after being picked No. 1 overall.

8:08 p.m.: Griner is the first pick in the draft by the Mercury. She says she is at a loss for words and compares it to trying to talk to Tony Hawk.

7:41 p.m.: Everyone except players and accompanying family members are asked to leave the draft room. The reality begins to set in. Less than 20 minutes until the start of ESPN2's broadcast. The Phoenix Mercury have the top overall pick and are widely expected to draft Griner.

Draft Class Andrew Lovell The 12 women who are on campus in Bristol, Conn., pose in the studio before the draft.

7:30 p.m.: The draft prospects take the stage for the annual group photo session. After a few shots, Griner tells the group to throw up their class of 2013 hand signals. "With your left hand, left hand," Griner reminds the group.

7:21 p.m.: An in-studio makeup artist provides last-minute touch-ups. The 12 draftees then gather on stage for group photos. "I am freezing," Diggins proclaims. The temperature seems more concerning to her than the choice that might define her professional career -- Chicago or Tulsa.

7:00 p.m.: Players are encouraged to try out walking to the podium. Always enter left and exit right, they are told. The atmosphere is a combination of nervousness and excitement. Griner chats with ESPN on-air host Kevin Negandhi.

Wnba draft studio Courtesy of Andrew LovellPhoenix will be on the clock when the WNBA draft gets underway at 8 p.m. ET.

6:38 p.m.: After a longer-than-expected dinner break, all 12 draftees finally reach the draft studio. Smiles cover up any nerves. Just more than one hour until the start of the draft. It's starting to set in now, as media members get in final questions.

6:20 p.m.: The trio's 6 p.m. ET "SportsCenter" appearance was canceled in light of live coverage of the Boston Marathon. Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins will reconvene around 7 p.m. in the ESPN Digital Center green room. There, the three will wait until the draft begins at 8 p.m.

5:19 p.m.: After the Twitter chat concludes, the trio takes advantage of a small window to do something they haven't had much chance to do during their hectic day: eat. Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins join their family and friends in a tent on ESPN's outdoor basketball court. From that tent, family and friends will watch the players get drafted later Monday night.

5:05 p.m.: Delle Donne is first up on the espnW Twitter chat. She answers questions about which position she'll play in the WNBA and what she needs to work on most. Diggins says she will absolutely continue her game-day tweets, a staple of hers in college. And she vows to continue wearing her trademark headband, even promising different colors and styles if the league allows it. Griner says players like Sylvia Fowles will pose the biggest challenges at the next level.

Skylar Diggins, Brittney Griner and Elena Delle DonneCourtesy of Andrew LovellSkylar Diggins, Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner are dressed for the draft.

4:54 p.m.: Now settled in the ESPN Digital Center green room, the three WNBA prospects watch a live ABC News feed covering the Boston Marathon bombings. Suddenly, what should be one of the happiest days of their lives turns somber. "That's crazy," Griner says. Diggins just shakes her head. "Horrible," she adds. Tragic news on a day that ranks among the most important in WNBA history.

4:41 p.m.: Another quick stop by makeup before an espnW Twitter chat. Delle Donne laughs about an earlier false report of the New York liberty trading up to the third pick. The trade turned out to involve just a third-round pick. The draft is almost three hours away, but these women are calm and confident.

4:26 p.m.: Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins reunite in Studio E, where the draft will be held in a few hours, for a photo session. For the first time, family members join the draft prospects. Griner shares a laugh with former WNBA standout and current ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo. Diggins takes the stage first, posing for pictures with her family members in front of the draft podium.

Brittney Griner Courtesy of Andrew LovellExpect to see Brittney Griner in a white suit at Monday's WNBA draft.

3:37 p.m.: Griner grabs her outfit for tonight's draft and heads into the players lounge, which is off-limits to all media. Diggins heads across the street to ESPN's KidsCenter to take a quick shower. Almost four hours to go until draft time.

3:15 p.m.: Griner and Diggins now hop on the live chat. The two answer an array of questions, including which superpower they'd choose to have. Griner says she'd be invisible. "Oh, good one," Diggins says, before choosing super speed for herself. Both players are having fun and are engaged in the chat.

Skylar Diggins, Brittney GrinerAndrew Lovell/ESPNWhile answering questions during an ESPN.com chat, Brittney Griner multitasks and checks her own text messages and emails.

3:01 p.m.: Diggins and Griner talk to Jonathan Coachman on "Coach and Company." Coachman asks Griner what her chances are of playing in the NBA. Griner answers with one word: "Good." She says she's tired of the stereotypes of women athletes. She wants to prove the haters wrong. Griner also jokes around, saying she needs an ESPN internship like Diggins had last summer.

2:56 p.m.: Delle Donne runs through her chat questions. One fan asks who she impersonated during last-second shots on the backyard court as a kid. It's a no-brainer for Delle Donne. "Michael Jordan," she replies. Delle Donne also discusses her cooking prowess. Lasagna and Mediterranean pasta are her top two dishes.

2:37 p.m.: Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins calmly run through their interview with anchor Sara Walsh. They discuss their unique talents and say they hope to continue to build the WNBA. It's now off to a radio interview for Griner and Diggins. Delle Donne is getting ready for an online chat.

GrinerRich Arden/ESPN ImagesBrittney Griner, who's standing on Tony Hawk's skateboard, says she had a long list of questions to ask the skateboarding legend. But the Baylor star was starstruck.

2:25 p.m.: As the trio enter the "SportsCenter" studio, Griner catches a highlight of her earlier meeting with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. Griner, a longboarder, can only shake her head. "I've got all these questions for him," she said, "and when I finally meet him, all I can say is, 'So & you skate?'"

2:07 p.m.: Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins duck into the makeup room for a quick touch-up before their joint "SportsCenter" appearance. Delle Donne and Diggins hop in the chairs first while Griner catches up on texts and emails. A video crew follows their every move. The draft is nearly six hours away, but the pace isn't slowing down.

DraftJoy Russo, espnW.comSeveral of the players who are expected to be first-round draft picks gather for a photo.

12:30-2 p.m.: The trio's busy morning takes a relaxing turn for the annual executive luncheon, which joins all 12 draft prospects with ESPN executives and other employees. Host Hannah Storm welcomes and introduces the players before turning it over to WNBA president Laurel J. Richie.

After a preview for the upcoming Nine for IX documentary film series, the group plays an ice-breaking WNBA trivia game. In a personal Q&A session, Diggins speaks about blazing her own trail at a school known predominantly for its football program. An emotional Griner speaks candidly about dealing with bullying as a child and her campaign to help others in similar situations. And Delle Donne talked about her older sister, Lizzie, who has autism and cerebral palsy and has been blind and deaf since birth.

Griner NailsHeather Burns for ESPNBrittney Griner paused to show off her glam orange-painted nails.

1 p.m.: Griner shows off her first manicure at the ESPN luncheon. She said she got orange because it was the WNBA's color.

10:30 a.m.: Diggins visits "First Take" and debates with Skip Bayless and Steven A. Smith about the opportunity she will have in the WNBA. "There is so much buzz with this draft class," Diggins said.

9:40 a.m.: The trio visits "SportsCenter" for an interview with Hannah Storm. She asks Delle Donne who is the best shooter of the group. Ready for the politics of being a professional basketball player, she answers: "Brittney from the inside, Skylar from the outside."

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