Former University of Kentucky star Jennifer O'Neill made her WNBA debut Friday night in the Minnesota Lynx's 83-75 victory against Tulsa in Minneapolis.
O'Neill, who got into the game for the first time in the second quarter, missed her only shot from the field. She hit both of her free-throw attempts and finished with two points and one assist in 10 minutes.
Just getting an invitation to participate in the Minnesota Lynx's training camp was a big deal for O'Neill.
When her agent told her about the opportunity, "I instantly started crying. I was just so happy," she said in an interview posted on the team's website before the game.
Then she went out and made the team's roster for opening night.
"I'm just happy to be here," O'Neill said ahead of Friday's game. "Dreams come true."
O'Neill, a 5-foot-5 point guard who averaged 14.4 points per game as a senior at UK, was not selected in the WNBA Draft.
"I watched it with my family, but I didn't think I was going to get drafted or anything like that." O'Neill said. "I knew my chances were very low. ... I wasn't really disappointing. I kind of didn't have any expectations, which kind of made getting this call worthwhile."
O'Neill was planning on playing for the Puerto Rican national team this summer, but that changed when her agent called about the opportunity with the Lynx. And then she went there and earned a spot on the team.
"I don't think I tried to prove that I belong in the league or on this team," O'Neill said of her effort in training camp and the preseason. "I just really tried to be a sponge and learn as much as I could. Ask as many questions as I could. ... I just did what Coach (Cheryl Reeve) was asking and tried to play my role."
O'Neill averaged five points, three assists and two rebounds in 16 minutes in two preseason games. She said she's benefiting from having Lindsay Whalen, a 12-year WNBA veteran and one of the league's top guards, as a teammate.
"I'm learning from her every day," O'Neill said. "She's constantly talking to me and teaching me."
Minnesota is starting the season with back-to-back games, so it will have another matchup Saturday against the Indiana Fever in Indianapolis.
"It's going to be an exciting weekend," O'Neill said.