Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper was familiar with Oderah Chidom before Thursday.
He’s been following the Duke senior’s career since her high school days in California.
But it wasn’t just the West Coast connection that made the former Los Angeles Lakers player select Chidom in Thursday’s WNBA Draft as the Atlanta Dream’s third-round pick. Cooper highlighted the forward’s rebounding ability, basketball IQ and how she fit in on the Dream.
“She does a little bit of everything,” Cooper said of the 6-foot-4 Chidom, who was the 31st selection in Thursday’s draft in New York. “Right now, that’s what we need from anybody joining our team.”
Chidom was one of seven ACC players to be selected Thursday and will join Syracuse guard Brittany Sykes, the No. 7 overall pick, in Atlanta. The Dream also took Tennessee guard Jordan Reynolds at No. 19.
Washington’s Kelsey Plum was the No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Mystics.
Chidom, the 21st Duke player to be drafted, averaged 7.9 points and 5.2 rebounds over a 122-game career. She averaged 12.3 points and 4.3 boards in the postseason in four NCAA tournament appearances.
Chidom, an Oakland, Calif., native, holds Duke’s sixth-highest field goal percentage with 55.5 and exited Duke ranked sixth in blocks with 153.
Cooper said she’ll best fit in as a small forward for the Dream.
“It’s not a lot of contact out there. I think the professional game is physical overall. She won’t be going up against (Connecticut Suns forward) Lynetta Kizer or big, big bodies that are in the league,” said Cooper, who was also a third-round pick when he was drafted in 1978. He went on to win five championships with the Lakers.
“Offensively, she’s not a great post up player, but she can get down there. I think with her size and her height, she might be able to get some baskets over some of the smaller people at the three spot as opposed to the four and five spot,” he said.
Chidom, who was a Blue Devils captain her senior year, will be reunited with former Duke standout Elizabeth Williams, a first-round pick in 2015. Cooper will try to utilize their combination from college to get Chidom acclimated quickly.
“Oderah’s pretty much a quiet person,” Cooper said through a chuckle, “but she’s going to have to talk at this level here.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan