HOUSTON - It was a moment that Charli Collier was destined for.
Collier, wearing a dress designed by former First Lady Michelle Obama's stylist Sergio Hudson, sat behind a single round table. To her right was her mother Ponda and to her left younger brother Casey, who is a lineman at USC. In the middle of the table was a beautiful bouquet of pink roses and just beside it a framed photo of her late father Elliott.
A night that Elliott, who passed away in April 2016, envisioned for his daughter since the eighth grade was here and his dream of her being No.1 came to fruition.
Charli Collier - the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 WNBA Draft by the Dallas Wings.
"I thought about him the whole time, the whole moment he was there," Collier, who pointed straight to the sky the moment her name was called, said. "It was just really emotional. It was a crazy feeling. He always told me I'd be No. 1. To have that come into play it was crazy. I was a little nervous when [WNBA Commissioner] Cathy [Engelbert] came and made the pick, it was emotions everywhere.
"I still can't believe it. It's unreal and I can't put it into words."
Collier started her high school career at Barbers Hill before going on to the University of Texas, which she helped guide to the Elite 8 this past season.
Now, Collier gets to stay in Texas as she heads to Dallas.
"It means a lot to me, I'm Texas-born and raised," Collier said. "It just means a lot to me to be here for my hometown, my fans, my family just supporting me right down the street."
STAYIN' IN TEXAS! ✊✊✊#TakeFlight#WNBADraft pic.twitter.com/CwPX258Lrf
— Dallas Wings (@DallasWings) April 15, 2021
Being the No. 1 overall pick as a junior put Collier in an elite club becoming only the third-ever player to do that.
Coming from Houston, she also joins an elite club as Collier's name will now be mentioned in the same breath as Cy-Fair High School alums Chiney Ogwumike and sister NNeka Ogwumike, who were both taken No. 1 overall in their respective drafts (2014 and 2012), and Nimitz grad Brittney Griner, who was taken No. 1 overall in 2013.
"Those are amazing players that came out of Houston and to be a part of that is just awesome," Collier said. "I'm really humbled. I'm just looking forward to the journey and the experience."
Thursday was a busy day for Collier.
The future No. 1 pick facetimed with fellow former Longhorn Kevin Durant early in the day. The two talked about her being potentially taken No. 1, Collier sending him a WNBA jersey to wear in the tunnel when he arrives at the arena. The duo discussed what number she will wear (having worn 14 in high school and 35 for her college career) - which Durant likes 1 or 11 - and finally wishing her good luck.
KD wished potential No. 1 pick @charlicollier good luck ahead of tonight's WNBA draft 🤘
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 15, 2021
The star-studded moments didn't end there.
After Collier was taken by the Wings, Dallas Maverick sensation Luka Doncic quote-tweeted her "WHAT'S UP DALLAS!!" tweet with "welcome to Dallas!"
"To see how young he is and the impact he's having on the league is amazing," Collier said about Doncic. "I love watching them play. I love the Dallas Mavs, so it's awesome to have him shout me out like that. It means a lot. I love his game, he makes an impact early and that's what I hope to do."
It won't be long before we see Collier in that new-look Dallas Wings jersey.
The Wings are set to open the 2021 season on May 14 in Los Angeles against the Sparks - who the Ogwumike's play for - before hosting their home-opener on May 22 at the College Park Center against the Seattle Storm.
"For me personally, I'm ready to get with my team and coaches and everybody," Collier said. "It's a quick turnaround because the season is here."
NUMBER 1. 🤩Enough said! #GodsPlan pic.twitter.com/zgMSDuSiBE
— Charli Collier™ (@charlicollier) April 16, 2021
Being the No.1 overall pick came as a surprise to her, Collier stated as she was unaware that the Wings would be taking her in that top slot.
Getting to be that coveted of a prospect didn't come without hard work and tough skin.
"It takes a lot of work on and off the court," Collier said. "I feel like you have to have a great mindset. In this day and age, you have to be strong and confident. You have to have tough skin. There's a lot of people who have opinions and you have to learn how to block out the noise."
THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT TEENAGERS THAT IS… WELL… UNPREDICTABLE.
Cy Creek's Rori Harmon has been a national basketball recruit since she was in middle school. The spotlight has been white hot as she has exceeded everyone's expectations as a 5-foot-6 point-guard.
Last year, the Cougars rolled through the regular season all the way to the state finals against super-power Duncanville.
Harmon was sent home before the state championship game for violating team rules – a tough pill to swallow for coach, player and team.
"It was very upsetting and it was a big deal for me. I've learned a lot from that situation," Harmon said. "I just had to move on and not let it define me as a person and I've followed through with that."
Harmon is a magnetic force on and off the court. She's a great student. She's a leader. She comes from a great family. She's a good teammate. But she's a teenager, too.
"My teammates know it's a different mindset and a different approach I'm taking this year," she said. "I think my teammates still trust me after what happened. I come to practice and work 110-percent. We are on the same page and I'm always going to be there for them.
"Coach (Jennifer) Alexander has taught me how to be a better leader ever since I've been here as a freshman. She wants me to take care of my teammates, not just on the court. I really care about them and I want to know how their emotional state is, not just what they do on the basketball court."
Harmon's journey started back before high school. She got her first offers in the eighth grade and her legendary status was already in place when she entered Cy Creek.
"My parents told me if you want to do something in life, go do it," she said. "I've always had that competitive side, but they know how to motivate me to keep me going. When I got that first offer, it really gave me confidence that this was my future."
As a freshman, she and her running-mate Kyndall Hunter led the Cougars to the State Tournament. Two freshmen led a school which opened in 1977 to its first state tournament in its nearly 40-year history. Something special was happening.
"When I got here, I thought that you just won district and that was it," she laughed. "I didn't really think about the playoffs or going to state. We were excited to get there when we figured it out."
As sophomores, Harmon and Hunter led the Cougars to the Regional Finals but fell to Summer Creek. However, their star-power was on X-Game mode for their summer showcase performances.
The pair would crack the ESPN Girls High School Rankings. The offers began pouring in along with the state and national accolades. To date, Harmon is No. 10 in the country and Hunter is the nation's No. 25 player.
On April 24, Harmon would make it official and commit to the University of Texas. On October 4, Hunter would also commit to the Longhorns. On November 11, Hunter and Harmon both signed with Texas.
"I just knew that the coaches and program were going to take care of me as a player and person," she said. "They are doing everything they can to help me lead them to a National Championship and that's all I can ask for. I want to take over right away."
Harmon has that big, perfect smile of a killer on the basketball court. She has bright eyes that see things developing three steps before you do. But she's still 5-foot-6 … maybe.
"I don't think about being small on the court," she laughed. "Most people say I play bigger than I am. Getting rebounds is a little harder but I'm pretty good at it. I just work on my speed to create space. I can't have people blocking my shot."
It's no wonder her favorite players are Allen Iverson and Kyrie Irving, both under-sized but play with a huge chip on their shoulders.
"Yeah, I get everyone's best game all the time," she said coyly. "Sometimes, I've got to remind them who they are guarding."
With all the pressure of recruiting and the spotlight of leading Cy Creek to state again, is she still having fun?
"It's probably more fun now, than ever," she said. "That feeling of winning…the adrenaline of playing basketball is just really good. There's nothing like it."
There's nothing like a second-chance story either.