Imani Boyette Reaches the Sky


She’s the Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year. She’s statistically one of the most proficient Longhorn basketball players—male or female—of all time. She’s a slam poet. She’s a recipient of the President’s Leadership Award. As of last night, Imani Boyette is a professional basketball player, taken by the Chicago Sky with the 10th overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft.

Boyette had been projected as a top-10 pick on mock WNBA draft sites. Sky coach Pokey Chatman was “thrilled Imani was still on the board” when it was time for the Chicago franchise to select. “Lo and behold, the Lord smiled on me,” Chatman said.

Boyette, the first Longhorn to score 1,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds, and block 200 shots, joins a Sky team that qualified for the playoffs after finishing second on the Eastern Conference, but lost in the second round. The 6-foot-7 center told the Chicago Tribune that she hopes to add a “defensive presence” to the roster.


In doing so, she will be following in her mother’s footsteps. Pamela McGee was the second overall pick in the 1997 WNBA Draft. Boyette and McGee, mother of NBA player JaVale, lived apart after a contentious custody battle between McGee and Boyette’s father before reconnecting. The two now share a close bond, after a tumultuous childhood for Boyette, a survivor of sexual abuse and suicide attempts.

“We’re best friends now, more than just mother and daughter,” McGee said before the draft.

Boyette told The New York Times that a WNBA career would be not only a way to extend her basketball career, but a conduit through which she can convey her message.

“I definitely want to change the way we view mental health and the way we view sexual-abuse survivors,” she said, “and I can’t do that without a platform.”

As of 7 p.m. last night, Boyette has a promising basketball career ahead—and that platform.

Credits: Anna Donlan; Boyette with Texas Women’s Basketball coach Karen Aston, courtesy Texas Athletics


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