HOUSTON – Nancy Mulkey walking into the Cypress Woods High School gym is something that Virginia Flores vividly remembers.
The 14-year-old freshman towering at 6-foot-5 stood out.
But just being tall doesn't automatically mean you are good at playing basketball. Flores waited to pass judgment until she saw her shoot.
Then she did.
"As soon as I saw her shoot, I was blown away," Flores, who coached at Cy Woods until 2017, said. "Here's a kid who's got finesse, has poise, and is graceful at the age of 14. She was either 6-5 or 6-6 at that time. That for me stood out."
Flores remembers a lot not only about the players that she personally coached at Cy Woods but also the ones that she has coached against.
The now-Associate Athletic Director for Cy-Fair ISD remembers DiDi Richard's fierceness at Cy Ranch. She recollects the pure dominance of Charli Collier at her alma mater Barbers Hill.
On Thursday, Flores will get to add another memory to the bank for these three players – watching them being picked in the 2021 WNBA Draft.
"It's been really cool to see a lot more excitement for the women's game," Flores said. "I think it's important for younger girls and younger athletes to see the opportunity. They are able to see themselves in these young women's shoes who are about to go to the WNBA."
Collier, who went on to star at the University of Texas, has been the headliner of this draft class ever since she formally declared.
The Barbers Hill product is projected in every mock draft to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Dallas Wings come Thursday night.
"Yes, it was ridiculous," Flores said with a chuckle about if she thought Collier would be a No. 1 overall pick one day after facing her. "She's just a competitor. It's amazing to see someone play the way she does at her size and she dominated. Then when she went on to UT playing under Karen Aston and now Vic Schaefer, she's gotten stronger, increase her physicality and she's embraced it."
The story is already written. #GodsPlan pic.twitter.com/jDjnxyUHaq
— Charli Collier™ (@charlicollier) April 9, 2021
The next Houston kid on the draft board is Richards, who is projected to go No. 21 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks.
The former Cypress Ranch star helped lead the Mustangs to the Class 6A State Championship game in 2017 and then went on to Baylor where she helped lead them to the 2019 National Championship.
"I've never seen anybody with a touch like that from the outside and the inside," Flores said of Richards. "A 6-1 player that played with the finesse that she played with and then to go on to college and continue to thrive."
The final Houston-area product is Mulkey, projected to go No. 35 to the Seattle Storm.
But what is crazy about Mulkey is when she first walked into Cypress Woods High School, basketball was not at the forefront of her mind.
"Nancy had a desire to play volleyball," Flores said. "She wanted to meet the volleyball coach and I don't know if basketball was on the horizon at the time. I think she had played it."
That has a nice ring to it.#GoOwls👐 x #Ready4TheCall pic.twitter.com/9axbSFCH0K
— Rice Women's Basketball (@RiceWBB) March 28, 2021
Mulkey ended up going with basketball and the move paid off.
The 2015 Class 6A State Champion after Cypress Woods went to Oklahoma her freshman season before transferring to Rice where she helped lead them to the NCAA Tournament and winning the 2021 NIT Championship.
"She's a competitor. Some people have this drive to want to be better and I do believe that is true about Nancy, but she also wants to do it for others," Flores said. "She wants to do that for her teammates and for her coaches. I think that's so evident at Rice where she did nothing but blossom and thrive in that environment."
So, flip back to the 2015-2016 season in Houston in women's basketball.
Mulkey was a senior, Richards a junior, and Collier a sophomore were all dominating the scene in the Houston area, which for Flores was fun, especially when Cy Woods and Cypress Ranch faced off.
"I think my kids were always geared up to beat Ranch because it was a rival and what also upped the ante was when you have a player like DiDi on that team," Flores said. "It makes other people want to play better.
"You had to bring your 'A' game every night."
If Richards and Mulkey are drafted on Thursday night into the WNBA, they will join a pretty elite class of former Cy-Fair ISD athletes to get drafted including the Ogwumike sisters, who all were taken into the WNBA. Then, of course in the NBA, Cy Lakes alum De'Aaron Fox is starring for the Sacramento Kings.
"I think it speaks to the level of commitment that our coaches put into our athletes," Flores said. "I think it also speaks to the volume that our community trusts us with their athletes."
Over the past few weeks, Flores has been busy.
In March, Flores traveled to the Alamodome to watch Texas-signees Rori Harmon and Kyndall Hunter lead Cypress Creek to play for the Class 6A State Championship.
Then in April, Flores was back inside the dome to watch former player Cate Reese take the opening tip of the 2021 National Championship game for Arizona.
To go from watching future college, to current college players and then to watch former players get drafted, Flores takes it all in.
"It's really validating and it's cool because the foundations that you laid here within your district or your own program are things they continue to build on as they leave," Flores said. "It's what we all want is to see them thrive at the next level whether that is in basketball, academically, or in their professional lives."
Projected WNBA Draft Picks
Charli Collier (Barbers Hill HS / University of Texas) – No. 1 Dallas Wings (Class of 2018)
Natasha Mack (Lufkin HS/Oklahoma State) – No. 10 Los Angeles Sparks
DiDi Richards (Cypress Ranch HS/Baylor) – No. 21 Los Angeles Sparks (Class of 2017)
Nancy Mulkey (Cypress Woods HS/Rice) – No. 35 Seattle Storm (Class of 2016)
Other Texas Stars
Kiana Williams (Wagner HS/Stanford) – No. 9 Minnesota Lynx
Ciera Johnson (Duncanville HS/Texas A&M) – No. 24 Indiana Fever
H-Town High School Sports continues on AT&T SportsNet and another Plays of the Week segment.
This includes Double Plays, Incredible Goals, a ton of speed, and a lot more amazing plays from across the Greater Houston Area. Check them out below, and don't forget to subscribe to VYPE on YouTube for more great video content!
For all the ways you love to play, Academy Sports and Outdoors makes it easier than ever to gear up and have fun out there! Get free shipping on your favorite brands at academy.com or get free curbside or in-store pick-up at your Academy store. Gear up this Spring at Academy Sports and Outdoors.
The season came to an end a few months ago, VYPE released its public school All-VYPE team a few weeks ago and now here are the All-VYPE Private School selections.
Lutheran High North, The Village School, and Second Baptist School all played for TAPPS State Championships this past season and the ladies of LHN brought home the ship.
Check out who made the All-VYPE first, second, and honorable mention teams for the 2020-2021 season. Congratulations to all the selections.
Private School Girls All-VYPE Team
Dalanna Carter, Lutheran North
Tymberlin Criswell, The Village School (SMU)
Jada Malone, The Village School (Texas A&M)
Zachara Perkins, St. Pius X
Jorynn Ross, John Cooper School
D'Asia Thomas, Houston Christian
RyLee Grays, The Village School
Anora Lee, Incarnate Word (2nd team all-state)
Ajailah Ogiemwonyi, John Cooper School
Ella Alexis Smith, St. Agnes Academy
Kate Marshall, Second Baptist School
Emrie Holt, Episcopal
Amani Bartlett, Houston Christian (Syracuse)
Taylor Cross, Episcopal
Leyla Ertan, Second Baptist School
Amirah Gray, Bay Area Christian
Gayle Henderson, Lutheran South Academy
Jalayah Ingram, Houston Christian
Kinsie Kim, Lutheran High North
Natalie Messa, St. Agnes Academy
Mackenzie Morris, The Woodlands Christian Academy
Madeline Mueller, Concordia Lutheran
Victoria Paige Noack, Lutheran High North
Alyssa Rogers, John Cooper School
Breelyn Sanborn, St. Pius X
Olivia Sauvageau, Second Baptist School
Aiken Semones, The Village School (HM All-State)
Madison Sewell, Bay Area Christian
Madison Steed, The Woodlands Christian Academy
December Stevenson, Kinkaid
Alexis Swain, Rosehill
Sela Thiessen, Legacy Prep
Chinelo Umeh, St. Agnes Academy (HM All-State)
Olivia Walker, Second Baptist School
Sydney Ward, The Village School
Nyah White, Fort Bend Christian Academy
Mary Wittmer, Legacy Prep
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