Anchorage’s Alissa Pili selected 8th in WNBA draft

two people pose on stage, one holding a jersey
Utah’s Alissa Pili, right, poses for a photo with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected eighth overall by the Minnesota Lynx during the first round of the WNBA basketball draft on Monday, April 15, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Dimond High School grad Alissa Pili was drafted 8th overall by the Minnesota Lynx on Monday in the Women’s National Basketball Association draft.

Pili is the sixth Alaskan to make the WNBA. She now shares the record as the highest overall WNBA draft pick by an Alaskan with her new teammate Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks. Hebard was taken 8th overall by the Chicago Sky in 2020 and now plays for the Lynx. Pili addressed her WNBA Draft prospects before lacing up to play in the Great Alaska Shootout at the Alaska Airlines Center in November.

“That’s always been a childhood dream of mine to be drafted,” Pili said.

Pili graduated from Dimond in Anchorage in 2019, and initially played for the University of Southern California, earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors and being named to the All-Pac-12 team.

Pili then transferred to the University of Utah in 2022 where she starred as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder for the last two years and was named the 2023 PAC-12 Player of the Year.

Pili is Inupiaq and Samoan, and has developed a following of Indigenous basketball fans eager to see her wherever she plays.

Utah head coach Lynn Roberts remarked on Pili’s homecoming before the University of Utah won the 2023 Great Alaska Shootout last November. Pili was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

“I think what’s pretty neat is the pride that Alissa has in being from Alaska,” Roberts said. “There’s a ton of pride in being Alaskan and her heritage and her family.”

A woman in red short throws a basketball.
Alissa Pili at a basketball Practice at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Pili’s season with the Lynx will begin in under a month when the Lynx tip off in Seattle against the Seattle Storm on May 14.

Pili was one of the most decorated athletes in Alaska sports history before she began her college career. Pili won 10 state championships in five sports for the Lynx and was named Gatorade Player of the Year for Alaska basketball three times.

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame recently named Pili the women’s Pride of Alaska award winner for the second year in a row.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Alissa Pili’s first name in a quote.

Tim Rockey is the producer of Alaska News Nightly and covers education for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at or 907-550-8487. Read more about Tim here

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