One of the most dominant athletes in the history of The Master’s University was selected fourth overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday night.
The Washington Mystics picked Stephanie Soares early in ESPN’s broadcast before trading the 6-foot-6-inch center to the Dallas Wings. Soares, who attended the New York City event with her family, is the second TMU women’s basketball alum to be selected in the WNBA Draft. In 2001, Erin Perperoglou (Buescher) went 23rd overall.
Soares is expected to miss the 2023 WNBA season due to the ACL injury she suffered as a graduate transfer at Iowa State this past season, according to ESPN. Soares played in 13 games at Iowa State, averaging 14.4 points and 9.9 rebounds.
“The rehab is going really well,” Soares told ESPN. “[The] pure excitement of going to Washington but now getting to go to Dallas, I mean, it’s going to be a great, great next step to the journey.”
At TMU, Soares was a two-time NAIA Player of the Year who led the Mustangs to national quarterfinal appearances in 2019 and 2022. On Monday, she distinguished herself in another way — no TMU alum has ever been drafted as high as Soares in any American professional sports league. The previous benchmark was set by Mark Redman, who played baseball briefly at TMU before transferring to the University of Oklahoma. Redman went 13th overall to the Twins in the 1995 MLB Draft.
After Monday’s selection, ESPN reporter Holly Rowe called Soares‘ path “one of the more intriguing draft journeys in WNBA history.”
“You played in the NAIA for three years at The Master’s University, how have you jumped from there to Iowa State to now being drafted so high?” Rowe asked on the broadcast.
“I think a part of it was … the people surrounding me,” Soares said. “They helped me grow and develop as an individual and a player. They helped me every step of the way.”
Soares came to TMU as a nationally recognized recruit before the 2018-19 season. And in her first year, she led the NAIA in blocked shots and rebounding and was a first-team NAIA All-American and the Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. In all, she earned each of those honors three times as a Mustang between 2018 to 2022.
Soares was the NAIA Player of the Year in 2019-20 and 2021-22. She missed the 2020-21 season due to an injury.
For her career, Soares ranks at or near the top of TMU’s record book in scoring average (tied-first), rebounds (first), blocked shots (first), total points (second), and field goal percentage (second). Her 450 career blocks are 257 ahead of TMU’s next best individual career total.
“What an incredible story the Lord has orchestrated in Stephanie’s life,” said TMU women’s basketball head coach Lisa Zamroz. “We could not be more excited for what she has accomplished. She is an overcomer in every sense of the word. We are so proud to have Stephanie as an alum of this program. We can’t wait to see her shining the light of Christ in the WNBA.”
TMU is a private, Christian university located in Placerita Canyon.