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Wright earns program-first AP honor, other accolades

Virginia

Monica Wright was selected=

Monica Wright will be the first to admit that her final postseason, which resulted in one-game exits from both the ACC and NCAA tournaments, was very much a disappointment. But Virginia's all-time leading scorer won't have time to dwell on it: instead, she is gearing up for a transition to the professional level.

Wright has spent her time training and meeting with agents in preparation for the 2010 WNBA draft, which airs today at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.

"It's definitely been a delightful experience," Wright said about preparing for the pros, "especially with the way we ended the season. It's definitely made it better."

The Connecticut Sun hold the first pick of tonight's draft but have already indicated that they will be taking local hero and Naismith Award winner Tina Charles of the NCAA-champion Connecticut team.

The next two picks belong to the Minnesota Lynx, and Wright could be one of the next two names called.

ESPN.com and other WNBA mock drafts say she is likely to be drafted with the third pick by the Lynx, with Stanford center Jayne Appel being a possible choice for the second pick.

But regardless of whether Wright ends up drafted by Minnesota or left behind to one of the next few picks - Chicago, San Antonio, and Washington are next on the board - she will be ready to work hard for any team at this next stage in her career.

"Any time I get to play high-level basketball ... I'm always excited about that opportunity," Wright said. "I'm just excited to get there and play with whoever's there."

Although she will be picking up after an early tournament exit this season, Wright is moving on with some high accolades under her belt.

Virginia's star player was selected as the WBCA Defensive Player of the Year after ranking third in the nation in steals while leading the top-25 Cavaliers in rebounds.

She also became the first Cavalier in program history to be selected as an Associated Press First-Team All-American, which has been awarded since 1995.

By her senior year, Wright was so dangerous on offense and defense that opposing coaches would go out of their way to compliment her.

"She is definitely an x-factor for this Virginia team," Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger said earlier this year. "She drops 27 points a game on nearly every team, so let's all just have a big party and welcome her into the WNBA. The difference between Monica and everyone else is that she has both speed and strength. She has one of the most explosive first steps and where she uses that most is on the defensive end."

Despite her strong performance all season, Wright said she was still shocked to receive such prestigious awards.

"The way I ended the season, I definitely didn't expect to get that much recognition," Wright said.

She credits her success to Ryan and the rest of the Virginia coaching staff. This group has not only prepared her for the next level, she said, but has helped her decide that she wants to be a coach herself some day.

"It encourages you to want to do what they do and make the difference in younger people's lives," Wright said. "I don't know how close or far away it is in my future, but I know it's there somewhere."

This is about as much of a long-term plan that Wright will unveil. Since her high school days, after all, she has always focused on the present.

When she came here, for instance, she never thought she would be one of Virginia's most decorated players of all time upon graduation, Wright said.

"I really didn't have that many far-stretched dreams or goals," Wright said. "I think having those short term goals led me to those dreams."

As for her old team, Wright said she anticipates it will continue its success, even with the loss of a formidable All-American.

"I'm sure the coaches and assistants are working really hard on the new team personnel they have, just like they did the year Lyndra [Littles] left and the year Sharne

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